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Biofilms and their role in otorhinolaryngological disease

  • E Macassey (a1) and P Dawes (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2008

To describe the pathophysiology of biofilm communities and their role in otorhinolaryngological disease, with reference to the published literature.


Review of relevant literature, using Medline and the combined search terms ‘biofilms’ and ‘otorhinolaryngology’, and also various related keywords such as ‘tonsil’ and ‘adenoid’.


Description of biofilm pathophysiology and of published reports of biofilms in otorhinolaryngological disease.


Virtually all microbes live in biofilm communities. Within these communities, the microbes assume differing specialised roles which confer survival advantages on the community. These communities cause chronic and device-associated infections. Within the specialist field of otorhinolaryngology, biofilms have been shown to play a role in many infections, including: chronic otitis media, cholesteatoma, chronic tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis, and infections of tracheostomies, endotracheal tubes and cochlear implants.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Dr Emily Macassey, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Dunedin Public Hospital, Great King Street, Dunedin, New Zealand. Fax: 006434747956 E-mail:
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