Bacterial Biofilms in Jones Tubes

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Abstract

Purpose:

To investigate the presence and microbiology of bacterial biofilms on Jones tubes (JTs) by direct visualization with scanning electron microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of representative JTs, and to correlate these findings with inflammation and/or infection related to the JT.

Methods:

In this study, prospective case series were performed. JTs were recovered from consecutive patients presenting to clinic for routine cleaning or recurrent irritation/infection. Four tubes were processed for scanning electron microscopy alone to visualize evidence of biofilms. Two tubes underwent PCR alone for bacterial quantification. One tube was divided in half and sent for scanning electron microscopy and PCR. Symptoms related to the JTs were recorded at the time of recovery.

Results:

Seven tubes were obtained. Five underwent SEM, and 3 out of 5 showed evidence of biofilms (60%). Two of the 3 biofilms demonstrated cocci and the third revealed rods. Three tubes underwent PCR. The predominant bacteria identified were Pseudomonadales (39%), Pseudomonas (16%), and Staphylococcus (14%). Three of the 7 patients (43%) reported irritation and discharge at presentation. Two symptomatic patients, whose tubes were imaged only, revealed biofilms. The third symptomatic patient’s tube underwent PCR only, showing predominantly Staphylococcus (56%) and Haemophilus (36%) species. Two of the 4 asymptomatic patients also showed biofilms. All symptomatic patients improved rapidly after tube exchange and steroid antibiotic drops.

Conclusions:

Bacterial biofilms were variably present on JTs, and did not always correlate with patients’ symptoms. Nevertheless, routine JT cleaning is recommended to treat and possibly prevent inflammation caused by biofilms.

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