Endoscope drying and its pitfalls

J Hosp Infect. 2017 Dec;97(4):319-328. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2017.07.012. Epub 2017 Jul 17.


Inadequate drying of endoscope channels is a possible cause of replication and survival of remaining pathogens during storage. The presence during storage of potentially contaminated water in endoscope channels may promote bacterial proliferation and biofilm formation. An incomplete drying procedure or lack of drying and not storing in a vertical position are the most usual problems identified during drying and endoscope storage. Inadequate drying and storage procedures, together with inadequate cleaning and disinfection, are the most important sources of endoscope contamination and post-endoscopic infection. Flexible endoscopes may be dried in automated endoscope reprocessors (AERs), manually, or in drying/storage cabinets. Flushing of the endoscope channels with 70-90% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol followed by forced air drying is recommended by several guidelines. Current guidelines recommend that flexible endoscopes are stored in a vertical position in a closed, ventilated cupboard. Drying and storage cabinets have a drying system that circulates and forces the dry filtered air through the endoscope channels. Endoscope reprocessing guidelines are inconsistent with one another or give no exact recommendations about drying and storage of flexible endoscopes. There is no conclusive evidence on the length of time endoscopes can be safely stored before requiring re-disinfection and before they pose a contamination risk. To minimize the risk of disease transmission and nosocomial infection, modification and revision of guidelines are recommended as required to be consistent with one another.

Keywords: Biofilms; Disease outbreaks; Drying; Endoscopy; Flexible endoscopes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decontamination / methods
  • Desiccation / methods*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Endoscopes / microbiology*
  • Equipment Contamination*
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease / prevention & control