August 31, 2016 — A new study has found a surprising reason why endoscopes often remain contaminated after being cleaned — infant gas relief drops.
The problem was discovered by researchers in Minnesota who found a cloudy, white, sticky fluid inside several colonoscopes that had already been cleaned and prepared for the next patient.
When they tested the substance, they found simethicone, the main ingredient in over-the-counter infant gas relief drops.
The drops are commonly injected into colonoscopes to reduce bubbles inside the body that can impede visibility.
Unfortunately, the drops contain sugars and thickeners, that “could provide the perfect habitat for the growth of bacteria” inside scopes.
The drops also contain silicone, which does not dissolve in water and is not removed using detergents or disinfectants. It could create an impenetrable barrier that traps contaminants inside the scope.
This is not the first time concerns have been raised about using the drops before colonoscopies. In 2014, Pentax provided this warning in the instructions for cleaning their scopes:
“Due to their nature, these silicone-based agents cling tenaciously to surfaces. Unless they are rinsed very thoroughly, a barrier which could reduce the effectiveness of the disinfection/sterilization process could be created.”
The study was published this month in the American Journal of Infection Control. The researchers concluded by recommending “minimizing the use of simethicone pending further research into its safety.”