Objectives: Ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia is commonly used for block placement. At present, the risk of cross contamination from probes is not well documented. To avoid transmission of infectious agents, several methods have been used for probe disinfection and protection. The aim of this study was to evaluate the antibacterial efficacy of a new high-level disinfection method based on ultraviolet C (UV-C) light under routine conditions after block placement with an unprotected probe.
Methods: The study was after approval by the local Ethics Committee. In the first part of the study, 15 ultrasound probes were exposed to a large inoculum of 3 bacteria. Ultraviolet C disinfection consisted of cleaning the probe with dry and disinfectant-impregnated paper followed by a 90-second UV-C disinfection cycle in a decontamination chamber. A protocol was established to retrieve the probe with sterile gloves after opening the door of the chamber. In the second part, 50 blocks were placed with ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia. The skin was first prepared with an antiseptic solution, and sterile gel was applied; no covers were used to protect the probes. The blocks were then disinfected with UV-C light. Bacteriologic samples were collected before and after the UV-C method and inoculated on chocolate agar plates.
Results: During the first part of the study, all probes were infected after inoculation (>150 colony-forming units) but were considered sterile (<10 colony-forming units) after disinfection. During the second part of the study, all probes were considered sterile before and after disinfection.
Conclusions: Ultraviolet C disinfection seems relevant for ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia just before block placement. It offers simple, fast, and effective high-level disinfection. Moreover, this method should obviate the use of sterile probe covers, which can improve echogenicity.