Soft robotic concepts in catheter design: an on-demand fouling-release urinary catheter.
Infectious biofilms are problematic in many healthcare-related devices and are especially challenging and ubiquitous in urinary catheters. This report presents an on-demand fouling-release methodology to mechanically disrupt and remove biofilms, and proposes this method for the active removal of infectious biofilms from the previously inaccessible main drainage lumen of urinary catheters. Mature Proteus mirabilis crystalline biofilms detach from silicone elastomer substrates upon application of strain to the substrate, and increasing the strain rate increases biofilm detachment. The study presents a quantitative relationship between applied strain rate and biofilm debonding through an analysis of biofilm segment length and the driving force for debonding. Based on this mechanism, hydraulic and pneumatic elastomer actuation is used to achieve surface strain selectively within the lumen of prototypes of sections of a fouling-release urinary catheter. Proof-of-concept prototypes of sections of active, fouling-release catheters are constructed using techniques typical to soft robotics including 3D printing and replica molding, and those prototypes demonstrate release of mature P. mirabilis crystalline biofilms (e.g., ≈90%) from strained surfaces. These results provide a basis for the development of a new urinary catheter technology in which infectious biofilms are effectively managed through new methods that are entirely complementary to existing approaches.
Levering, V; Wang, Q; Shivapooja, P; Zhao, X; López, GP
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