Bacterial adhesion on spinal implants: An in vitro study of "hot spots"

Andrea Luca, Enrico Gallazzi, Elena De Vecchi, Marco Brayda-Bruno, Alessio Lovi, Lisa Babbi, Giuseppe Michele Peretti, Alessandro Bidossi

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Few studies evaluated bacterial colonization of spinal implants from a "topographic" point of view. This lack of knowledge could hinder the development of more effective strategies in the prevention and treatment of postoperative spinal infections. The aim of this in vitro study was the analysis of the adhesion pattern of sessile cells on conventional spinal implants, to identify "hot spots" on implants where bacterial adhesion could be favored. Clinically relevant Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates were grown on commercially available end product spinal implants. To identify sessile cells attached to implant surfaces, confocal laser scan microscopy was used. Different areas from the spinal instrumentations (both Ti and CoCr) were selected for biofilm quantification. Bacterial biofilm was markedly increased in the cut of the rods, both Ti and CoCr, as the uneven surface deriving from the cut might foster cell adhesion. Though not statistically significant, a difference was observed between the rod and the area of the notch, possibly as a consequence of the smoothening effect deriving from the bending of the rod. Finally, the amount of biofilm produced on cobalt-chromium surfaces was always more significant than that formed on titanium surfaces. This study highlights how bacterial adhesion through biofilm formation is favored on the surfaces of higher irregularity and that staphylococci are able to increase sessile biomass on CoCr surfaces. These preliminary results show how surface modifications on the implants may play a key role in bacterial adhesion, opening an exciting field for future research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 17 2020

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