Background and aims: The large-scale effects of duodenoscopes on the environment and public health have not been quantified. Our aim was to perform an exploratory life cycle assessment comparing environmental and human health effects of single-use duodenoscopes (SDs) and reusable duodenoscopes (RDs).
Methods: We evaluated 3 duodenoscopes: conventional RDs, RDs with disposable endcaps, and SDs. The primary outcomes were impacts on climate change and human health, complemented by multiple environmental impacts.
Results: Performing ERCP with SDs releases between 36.3 and 71.5 kg of CO2 equivalent, which is 24 to 47 times greater than using an RD (1.53 kg CO2) or an RD with disposable endcaps (1.54 kg CO2). Most of the impact of SDs comes from its manufacturing, which accounts for 91% to 96% of its greenhouse gas emission. The human health impact of RDs becomes comparable with the SD lower bound if disposable endcaps or other design modifications can reduce serious infection rates below a target rate of 23 cases per year (.0046%).
Conclusions: Although SDs may provide incremental public health benefit compared with RDs, it comes at a substantially higher cost to the environment. As infection rates continue to decrease from more regimented cleaning protocols and enhanced designs such as disposable endcaps to facilitate cleaning, the negative impact to human health from contaminated RDs could be comparable with SDs.
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