Intravascular catheters carry a significant risk of becoming colonized with bacteria and fungi and are important risk factors of septicemia in premature neonates. The study was undertaken to evaluate whether scanning electron microscopy (SEM) examination of removed catheters can be useful in early diagnosis of plastic infection by Candida, providing information useful for initiation of an eventual therapy. The evolution of biofilms in 28 catheters (umbilical or central) implanted in 24 newborns for prematurity was studied by SEM and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). In 4 of 24 patients, SEM examination revealed the presence of Candida in form of yeast or hyphae. In one of these patients, TEM confirmed the presence of organisms. In each case, hemoculture and culture of the catheter itself confirmed the diagnosis. The study demonstrates that SEM can identify fungi in the biomaterials covering the catheter surface in a few hours, allowing an early diagnosis of plastic infection.
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