Silicone obturators and the bacterial flora in symptomatic nasal septal perforations
Abstract: Background A perforation in the nasal septum can cause symptoms such as bleeding, obstruction, crusts and pain, and can be a challenge to treat. Surgery is the treatment of choice, but disease, size of the perforation, or the patient’s wish may contradict surgery. A custom-made silicone obturator is a successful treatment option, but little is known how this treatment affects the microbial flora. The purposes of this thesis were (i) to investigate the microbial flora around symptomatic nasal septal perforations before treatment, (ii) during and after a 12-month treatment period with a custom-made obturator, (iii) to compare the microbial flora around symptomatic perforations with the flora from the same area of the septum in healthy individuals, (iv) to investigate the microbial colonization of the silicone obturator, and (v) also to investigate the water sorption, solubility and if the wettability of silicones are affected by water. The hypotheses were (i) that the bacterial flora around symptomatic perforations would not differ from that found in healthy individuals, apart from a possible presence of Helicobacter pylori; (ii) the bacterial flora would change in composition during the course of treatment and that microorganisms and proteins could be seen on the surface of the silicone obturators; (iii) a material that has adsorbed water would also show an increase in wettability and the surface free energy of the material. Methods Twenty-seven patients and 101 healthy individuals volunteered. Swabs were made around the rim of the perforation, or on the septum in the locus Kisselbachi area in the healthy individuals. Bacteria and fungi were isolated and identified with standard laboratory techniques. A biopsy of the granulated tissue at the perforation was taken and cultivated for Helicobacter pylori. Swabs were also taken three, six and twelve months after inserting the obturator. The obturator was analysed after being used twelve months in the nose. Seven silicones were tested for water sorption and solubility according to ISO standards 1567:1999 and ISO 10477:2004. The change in wettability was examined by measuring the contact angle with a contact goniometer at various stages of the sorption/solubility test.Results Staphylococcus aureus was present in 88% of the untreated patients. With treatment a significant reduction of S. aureus occurred to 54.5% (p<0.05). In the healthy group S. aureus was present in 13% of the subjects. No Helicobacter pylori could be cultivated from the biopsies taken of the granulated tissue at the perforation. The flora round the untreated perforation was dominated by S. aureus with few other bacterial species detected. In the healthy group there was a diversified flora with both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. SEM revealed a rough surface on the silicone obturator and crazing of the silicone surrounding the pigment granules. Both bacteria and proteins could be seen on the obturators in SEM. Candida albicans was detected in one obturator, but not in the mucosal swab at the corresponding time. That patient had, however, been treated for Candida in the nose six months prior to the last visit in the study. Wettability was affected but did not increase with amount of adsorbed water. Some materials showed an increase and some a decrease in the surface-free energy. The tested addition silicones showed little sorption and solubility.Conclusions The patients with symptomatic perforations of the nasal septum had a bacterial flora totally dominated by S. aureus. The massive presence of S. aureus around symptomatic perforations may have an impact on the persistence of the granulated and inflamed tissue present in symptomatic perforations, thus forming a vicious circle with bleeding and crustation.S. aureus dominance in the mucosa surrounding symptomatic perforations was diminished by using a custom-made obturator. The microbial flora became more diversified with the treatment, although not resembling the flora in healthy individuals. The microbial flora of the obturators was similar, but not the same as the corresponding mucosal flora. The discovery of Candida in the obturator of a patient who had been treated for Candida in the nose six months earlier suggests that obturators need to be exchanged when fungal infections are being treated to prevent the fungus from re-infecting the patient at a later stage.The silicone had a rough surface and a poor wettability, both aspects favours colonization of microorganisms. The silicone was negatively affected by the colouring pigments, this should be considered when colouring is not necessary. The slight, but existing solubility of silicones emphasises the importance of using medical grade silicones that are more purified than industrial silicones.
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