Disinfection of transvaginal ultrasound probes in a clinical setting: comparative performance of automated and manual reprocessing methods

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2016 May;47(5):646-51. doi: 10.1002/uog.15771.


Objectives: Transvaginal and intracavitary ultrasound probes are a possible source of cross-contamination with microorganisms and thus a risk to patients' health. Therefore appropriate methods for reprocessing are needed. This study was designed to compare the standard disinfection method for transvaginal ultrasound probes in Germany with an automated disinfection method in a clinical setting.

Methods: This was a prospective randomized controlled clinical study of two groups. In each group, 120 microbial samples were collected from ultrasound transducers before and after disinfection with either an automated method (Trophon EPR®) or a manual method (Mikrozid Sensitive® wipes). Samples were then analyzed for microbial growth and isolates were identified to species level.

Results: Automated disinfection had a statistically significantly higher success rate of 91.4% (106/116) compared with 78.8% (89/113) for manual disinfection (P = 0.009). The risk of contamination was increased by 2.9-fold when disinfection was performed manually (odds ratio, 2.9 (95% CI, 1.3-6.3)). Before disinfection, bacterial contamination was observed on 98.8% of probes. Microbial analysis revealed 36 different species of bacteria, including skin and environmental bacteria as well as pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas spp.

Conclusions: Considering the high number of contaminated probes and bacterial species found, disinfection of the ultrasound probe's body and handle should be performed after each use to decrease the risk of cross-contamination. This study favored automated disinfection owing to its significantly higher efficacy compared with a manual method. Copyright © 2015 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords: TVS; automated reprocessing; contamination; disinfection; hygiene; manual reprocessing; transvaginal ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Disinfection / standards*
  • Equipment Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Equipment Contamination / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Transducers / microbiology*
  • Ultrasonography / instrumentation