Transmission of infection by flexible gastrointestinal endoscopy and bronchoscopy

Clin Microbiol Rev. 2013 Apr;26(2):231-54. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00085-12.


Flexible endoscopy is a widely used diagnostic and therapeutic procedure. Contaminated endoscopes are the medical devices frequently associated with outbreaks of health care-associated infections. Accurate reprocessing of flexible endoscopes involves cleaning and high-level disinfection followed by rinsing and drying before storage. Most contemporary flexible endoscopes cannot be heat sterilized and are designed with multiple channels, which are difficult to clean and disinfect. The ability of bacteria to form biofilms on the inner channel surfaces can contribute to failure of the decontamination process. Implementation of microbiological surveillance of endoscope reprocessing is appropriate to detect early colonization and biofilm formation in the endoscope and to prevent contamination and infection in patients after endoscopic procedures. This review presents an overview of the infections and cross-contaminations related to flexible gastrointestinal endoscopy and bronchoscopy and illustrates the impact of biofilm on endoscope reprocessing and postendoscopic infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Bacterial Infections / transmission*
  • Bronchoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / transmission*
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease / prevention & control
  • Virus Diseases / prevention & control
  • Virus Diseases / transmission*