Direct scanning electron microscopy of material obtained during surgical debridement of osteomyelitic bone showed that the infecting bacteria grew in coherent microcolonies in an adherent biofilm so extensive it often obscured the infected bone surfaces. Transmission electron microscopy showed this biofilm to have a fibrous matrix, to contain some host cells, and to contain many bacteria around which matrix fibers were often concentrated. Many bacterial morphotypes were present in these biofilms, and each bacterium was surrounded by exopolysaccharide polymers, which are known to mediate formation of microcolonies and adhesion of bacteria to surfaces in natural ecosystems and in infections related to biomaterials. The adherent mode of growth may reduce the susceptibility of these organisms to host clearance mechanisms and antibiotic therapy and thus may be a fundamental factor in acute and chronic osteomyelitis.
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