In an investigation of bacterial colonisation of intravascular cannulae, 16 peripheral venous cannulae of the Venflon variety and 24 chronic haemodialysis cannulae were studied after removal from patients. Studies of colonisation included semi-quantitative microbiological culture and scanning electronmicrographic (SEM) observations. The microbiological findings indicated colonisation of the intravascular portion of the catheter in 4 of 16 Venflon cannulae and 18 of 26 haemodialysis cannulae, largely with skin commensal organisms. The results of the SEM studies were in broad agreement with the microbiological observations. Surface defects on the cannulae were shown to be associated with microbial colonisation which occurred either as isolated colonies or in association with a cellular fibrinous matrix. These observations are illustrated and discussed.


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