Effectiveness of a polyhexamethylene biguanide-containing wound cleansing solution using experimental biofilm models

Mark Rippon, Alan A. Rogers, Samantha Westgate, Karen Ousey

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1 Citation (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Antiseptics are widely used in wound management to prevent or treat wound infections, and have been shown to have antibiofilm efficacy. The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB)-containing wound cleansing and irrigation solution on model biofilm of pathogens known to cause wound infections compared with a number of other antimicrobial wound cleansing and irrigation solutions. METHOD: Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa single-species biofilms were cultured using microtitre plate and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) biofilm reactor methods. Following a 24-hour incubation period, the biofilms were rinsed to remove planktonic microorganisms and then challenged with wound cleansing and irrigation solutions. Following incubation of the biofilms with a variety of concentrations of the test solutions (50%, 75% or 100%) for 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 minutes, remaining viable organisms from the treated biofilms were quantified. RESULTS: The six antimicrobial wound cleansing and irrigation solutions used were all effective in eradicating Staphylococcus aureus biofilm bacteria in both test models. However, the results were more variable for the more tolerant Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm. Only one of the six solutions (sea salt and oxychlorite/NaOCl-containing solution) was able to eradicate Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm using the microtitre plate assay. Of the six solutions, three (a solution containing PHMB and poloxamer 188 surfactant, a solution containing hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and a solution containing NaOCl/HOCl) showed increasing levels of eradication of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm microorganisms with increasing concentration and exposure time. Using the CDC biofilm reactor model, all six cleansing and irrigation solutions, except for the solution containing HOCl, were able to eradicate Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms such that no viable microorganisms were recovered. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated that a PHMB-containing wound cleansing and irrigation solution was as effective as other antimicrobial wound irrigation solutions for antibiofilm efficacy. Together with the low toxicity, good safety profile and absence of any reported acquisition of bacterial resistance to PHMB, the antibiofilm effectiveness data support the alignment of this cleansing and irrigation solution with antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-367
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of wound care
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2023

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