Increasing potential risks of contamination from repetitive use of endoscope

Am J Infect Control. 2015 May 1;43(5):e13-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2015.01.017. Epub 2015 Feb 25.


Background: Medical devices inserted into the human body can be divided into single-use devices and reusable medical devices (RMDs) depending on the method of use. RMDs are applied to >1 patient, and users reprocess them prior to repeat use. Therefore, reprocessing of RMDs has become more difficult, and issues related to infection risk have become more prevalent.

Methods: Research was performed to compare differences in surface alterations between not-aged (NA) samples and accelerated-aging (AA) samples. NA and AA samples were exposed to potential contaminants and treated with the same cleaning conditions. Then the residual contaminants were analyzed, and adhesion characteristics were investigated.

Results: Significant differences between the 2 sample groups were observed in the pattern of physical surface alterations. Similar to the endoscope for clinical use, a deep crack was found in the surface of the AA sample. According to the binding affinity test, highly likely potential contaminants were found more frequently on AA samples.

Conclusion: The results suggest the necessity of limiting the duration of time that RMDs may be used, considering the potential risk of infection from repetitive use of RMDs, and also raised the possibility of applying this simulation model of AA. This methodology can be applied to various RMDs, including endoscopes.

Keywords: Flexible endoscope; Infection; Reprocessing; Reusable medical device.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Load*
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Endoscopes / microbiology*
  • Equipment Reuse*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium / isolation & purification*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification*