Can bottle design prevent bacterial contamination of nasal irrigation devices?

Andrew Foreman, Peter Wormald

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Saline nasal irrigation is a mainstay in the medical management of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) with proven efficacy. However, bacterial contamination of irrigation bottles has recently been reported and this may contribute to recurrent infections. Sterilization is effective but could a change in bottle design obviate the need for regular sterilization? Methods: A total of 20 stable CRS patients were given a NasalCare® (Techworld Corporation, Inc., Downington, PA) irrigation bottle to use regularly for 1 week. This bottle incorporates a 1-way valve to prevent irrigant regurgitation. Swabs were taken from their sinonasal cavity and 3 sites on the bottle-nozzle, valve, and inner surface. Results: This study cultured a range of organisms from all sites of the bottle, including common CRS pathogens such as S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, and E. coli. Whereas the bottle's inner surface had the lowest bacterial recovery rate, the frequent culture of organisms at this site suggests a 1-way valve cannot completely prevent irrigant reflux. The high rate of organism detection at the nozzle and valve of the bottle is concerning, as bacteria at these sites may be transported to the nose during nasal douching. Conclusion: Saline irrigation will continue to be an essential component of CRS management. However, despite employing a 1-way liquid valve in this study, nasal irrigation bottles can still become contaminated with bacteria. Thus, patient education, irrespective of bottle design, will be essential in preventing bacterial contamination of nasal irrigation devices. The results of our survey suggest this message is not getting across to our patients.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)303-307
    Number of pages5
    JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


    • Bacteria
    • Bottle
    • Contamination
    • Irrigation
    • Nasal
    • Sinus
    • Sinusitis
    • Staphylococcus aureus


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