Hospital acquired infections are on the increase globally. In many cases ultrasound machines and transducers may act as both source and vector of nosocomial infections, because they come into direct contact with patients and practitioners during scanning procedure.
The process by which bacteria or other micro organisms are unintentionally transferred from one person or object to another, with harmful effect is called cross contamination.
The chance of cross contamination is high in certain type of ultrasound transducers. They are:
- All transducers those are likely to come into contact with broken skin
- All intracavitary transducers (transvaginal, transrectal, transoesophageal)
- All transducers used during ultrasound-guided biopsy or infiltration
- All transducers used in ultrasound-guided interventional procedures
- All transducers used within a sterile environment (such as operating theatres)
Based on the risk of transmission of infections, the ultrasound transducers are classified into three. They are:
- These items confer a high risk for infection if they are contaminated with any micro organism and must be sterile at the time of use.
- This includes any objects that enter sterile tissue or the vascular system, because any microbial contamination could transmit infection.
- Example:- TEE Probes
- These items come into contact with mucous membranes or non-intact skin.
- It should be single use or sterilized after each use.
- High-level disinfection is necessary for reprocessing.
- Example:- Endo Probes
- These items come into contact with intact skin but not mucous membranes
- Cleaning is sufficient for this type of transducers after each individual use
- Intermediate or low-level disinfection is needed for reprocessing.
- Example :- Cardiac Probes
How to prevent cross contamination???
By taking some precautions we can avoid the risk of infection through ultrasound scan. They are:
- Proper disinfection of transducer after each use
- Maintain a clean working environment
- Hand hygiene of clinician before and after each examination
- Use of personal protective equipment where appropriate
The manufactures are providing the care and maintenance guide for their transducers . The guide for GE and Philips are given below