Practical toolkit for monitoring endoscope reprocessing effectiveness: Identification of viable bacteria on gastroscopes, colonoscopes, and bronchoscopes

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Experts have recommended microbiologic surveillance by external reference laboratories for certain flexible endoscopes. There is currently insufficient evidence on the feasibility and utility of cultures. Researchers evaluated a preassembled toolkit for collecting and processing samples from endoscopes.


A pilot study was performed in a large academic medical center. A toolkit was used to aseptically sample biopsy ports and suction/biopsy channels of 5 gastroscopes, 5 colonoscopes, and 5 bronchoscopes after full reprocessing. Blinded specimens were packaged and transported on icepacks to a reference laboratory that used standard methodologies for microbial cultures.


The laboratory detected bacteria in samples from 60% of patient-ready endoscopes, including gram-positive and gram-negative species. Viable microbes (<10 CFU) were recovered from 2 gastroscopes, 3 colonoscopes, and 4 bronchoscopes. Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Delftia acidovorans were recovered from all 3 endoscope types. Subsequent environmental testing detected S maltophilia in the reprocessing rinse water.


A preassembled toolkit facilitated the aseptic collection of samples for culturing by a reference laboratory that detected viable microbes on fully reprocessed endoscopes. Speciation allowed identification of potential pathogens and a possible common contamination source, demonstrating that microbial cultures may have value even when colony counts are low.

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