July 14, 2016 — A new study has confirmed that germs sometimes remain on endoscopes even after they are cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Researchers found that around 5% of echoendoscopes had some type of microbial contamination, despite following the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Most of those bacteria were of low concern, but approximately 0.6% could cause infections in people.
The study was published in March 2016 in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. The conclusions were based on data from 21 hospitals in four states.
The study highlights the difficulty of ensuring that endoscopes are not contaminated with bacteria before they are re-used on new patients.
The hospitals included Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, where dozens of scopes were tested every day for microbial contamination for a month. No infections were detected and no patients were harmed.
However, the study confirmed their worst suspicions — bacteria can remain on scopes even after high-level disinfection, according to the Seattle Times.
The study also shows that linear echoendoscopes can transmit infections. The most popular echoendoscopes are made by Olympus Corp., the same company that makes the TJF-Q180V duodoenoscopes. According to the FDA, complex moving parts in the tip of the scope are very hard to clean.