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Vol. 65. Issue 1.
Pages 47-52 (January - February 2014)
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Vol. 65. Issue 1.
Pages 47-52 (January - February 2014)
Review Article
Biofilms in Otolaryngology
Biofilms en otorrinolaringología
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Nicolás Mena Viveros
Servicio de Otorrinolaringología, Hospital del Vinalopó, Elche, Alicante, Spain
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Abstract

According to the National Institute of Health of the USA, “more than 60% of all microbial infections are caused by biofilms”. This can surprise us, but it is enough to consider that common infections like those of the genito-urinary tract, infections produced by catheters, middle ear infections in children, the formation of dental plaque and gingivitis are caused by biofilms, for this statement to seem more realistic.

At present this is one of the subjects of great interest within medicine, particularly in otolaryngology. Bacteria have traditionally been considered to be in a free state without evident organisation, partly perhaps by the ease of studying them in this form. Nevertheless, the reality is that, in nature, the great majority of these germs form complex colonies adhered to surfaces, colonies that have received the name of biofilms. These biofilms are more common than previously thought and almost all of the people have been in contact with them in the form of infections in the teeth or humid, slippery areas. New treatments that can eradicate them are currently being investigated.

Keywords:
Biofilms
Cholesteatoma
Chronic sinusitis
Chronic tonsillitis
Adenoids
Resumen

Según el Instituto de Salud de los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica «un porcentaje superior al 60% de todas las infecciones microbianas están originadas por biofilms», afirmación que puede parecernos sorprendente, pero basta que consideremos que infecciones tan comunes como las del tracto genitourinario, las producidas por el catéter, las del oído medio en los niños, la formación de la placa dental y la gingivitis son originadas por biofilms, para que esta afirmación parezca más realista.

Los biofilms son conglomerados de células que viven inmersas en una matriz propia de exopolisacárido con una organización estructural y funcional compleja, resultado de una comunicación continua entre ellas. La estructura de dicha biopelícula les confiere protección contra los antibióticos y las defensas del organismo, por lo que son los responsables de innumerables infecciones recalcitrantes en todo el cuerpo humano y particularmente en oídos, senos paranasales, amígdalas y adenoides. Actualmente se investigan nuevos tratamientos que puedan ser eficaces para erradicarlos.

Palabras clave:
Biofilms
Colesteatoma
Sinusitis crónica
Amigdalitis crónica
Adenoides

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