Prevention of biofilm formation in dialysis water treatment systems

E. Smeets, J.P. Kooman*, F.M. van der Sande, E.E. Stobberingh, P.M. Frederik, P. Claessens, W. Grave, A. Schot, K.M.L. Leunissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Prevention of biofilm formation in dialysis water treatment systems.

Smeets E, Kooman J, van der Sande F, Stobberingh E, Frederik P, Claessens P, Grave W, Schot A, Leunissen K.

Department of Medical Microbiology, University Hospital Maastricht, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

BACKGROUND: Biofilm formations in dialysis systems may be relevant because they continuously release bacterial compounds and are resistant against disinfection. The aim of the study was to compare the development of biofilm between a water treatment system based on a single reverse osmosis unit producing purified dialysate water [bacterial count, 350 colony-forming unit (CFU)/L] (center A) and a water treatment system based on double reverse osmosis and electric deionization, which is continuously disinfected with ultraviolet light and treated with ozone once a week (bacterial count, 1 CFU/L) (center B). METHODS: During a period of 12 weeks, biofilm formation was studied in the tubing segment between the water piping and the dialysis module, using four dialysis monitors in each center. On a weekly basis, tubing samples of 5 cm length (N = 96) were taken under aseptic conditions and investigated for microbiologic contamination [cystine lactose electrolyte-deficient (CLED) Agar], endotoxin levels [limulus amoeben lysate (LAL) gel test, cutoff value, 0.0125 EU/mL], and biofilm formation [electron scanning microscopy (SEM)]. RESULTS: In center A, tube cultures were positive (>100 CFU/mL) in 16% of samples at 22 degrees C and 37 degrees C, compared to 3% of samples of center B (P < 0.05; chi-square). Endotoxin levels were positive in 76% of the tubing samples of center A and negative in all of the samples of center B (P < 0.05). Biofilm was present in 91.7% of the samples of center A (Fig. 1), and only present in one sample (taken after 9 weeks) of center B (P < 0.05) (Fig. 2). In center A, biofilm formation was already observed after 1 week. CONCLUSION: In contrast to a standard water treatment system producing purified water, the use of a system producing highly purified water, which is also treated with regular disinfection procedures, leads to a significant reduction in biofilm formation, bacterial growth, and endotoxin levels in a highly vulnerable part of a water treatment system
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1574-1576
Number of pages2
JournalKidney International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003

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