Evaluating new approaches to endoscope cleaning

Effective removal of biofilm and contamination from endoscopes is vital to ensure patient safety. Ellie Wishart, says that new endoscope cleaning approaches are required and outlines the key criteria required to assess their potential.

Flexible endoscopes have been associated with more outbreaks of infection than any other reusable medical or surgical device.1 More than 200 journal articles have been published in the last decade involving contamination, cleaning failure, or infections associated with endoscopes, with incidents of contamination reported for all major endoscope types.

As flexible endoscopes that contact mucosa are semi-critical devices, they must undergo thorough cleaning and high-level disinfection after each use.2 This is a highly complicated process that can include dozens of individual steps. Of these steps, the manual brushing and flushing of endoscope channels is recognised as the most critical for successful reprocessing.3

Nevertheless, manual cleaning has its limitations. There is a need for new approaches, therefore, but they must be carefully assessed against a set of criteria to ensure they are an improvement on current methods.

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