The role of biofilm in chronic laryngitis and in head and neck cancer

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Purpose of review

The importance of bacterial biofilm in the human body, both when associated in chronic infections and as the default mode of microbial growth in the normal flora, has been understood during the last two decades. The word biofilm has recently entered into clinical vocabulary especially in dentistry, and oral hygienists have begun to talk of oral or dental biofilm instead of oral plaque. Biofilm presence has been demonstrated widely in otorhinolaryngology, related to chronic infections of middle ear, paranasal sinuses and lymphoid tissue of adenoids and tonsils and to implanted materials; however, less literature exists considering the implication of biofilm to laryngeal infections or head and neck cancer. The research until now has been mainly descriptive and the mechanisms that lead to biofilm formation are unclear and thus there are limited options for specific treatment of biofilm infection. The focus of this article is to review the recent literature considering the bacterial biofilm in larynx and in head and neck surgery.

Recent findings

Bacterial biofilm has now also been implicated in chronic laryngitis. Among head and neck cancer patients, biofilm is the main reason for the short life cycle of indwelling devices such as voice prostheses and tracheal tubes. Recently, bacterial biofilm has been related to dysplasia and malignancies both as an aetiological factor and as a source of complications.


It has been shown that microbial biofilm is implicated in the mechanisms leading to chronic recalcitrant infections, implant contamination and even to dysplasia. Biofilm has an important role in finding new preventive measures and treatment of these diseases.

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