Cleaning and Disinfecting of Ultrasound Probes: untangling this Infectious Risk Moment

Dr Greg Whiteley1

1Whiteley Corporation, Tomago, NSW, Australia


Introduction: Reusable Ultrasound Probes (RUS) and accompanying equipment are reusable medical devices which are identified as having a potential to transmit microbes between patients where cleaning and disinfecting is inadequate. The reprocessing guidelines for these devices are well documented in Australia, but there is little data on the cleaning failure risks.

Method: The cleanliness of the patient ready RUS was assessed using rapid Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) testing in a range of healthcare settings. The measurement approach followed the published ATP sampling algorithm. The Cleaning Intervention Step (CIS) used several varieties of disposable detergent wipe, and the surface retested for ATP.

Results: Of more than 250 surfaces tested 26% (66/253) demonstrating insufficient cleanliness. The CIS demonstrated that for more than 90% (135/148) of surfaces, the cleaning standards could be improved (p>0.001). For 9 RUS devices (6%) and surfaces the CIS needed to be repeated at least once to achieve the intended level of cleanliness. In at least one instance, cleanliness failure was noted on a semi critical RUS device that had been reprocessed using Hydrogen Peroxide.

Conclusions: This study indicates that cleaning is a critical step in reprocessing prior to disinfecting, and that ATP testing is an effective, real-time, quality assurance tool for cleanliness monitoring of ultrasound probes and associated equipment. Further work utilising both ATP testing and Recovery Microbiology is on-going to investigate cleanliness standards of RUS in Accident and Emergency applications.


Dr Greg Whiteley has qualifications from Hawkesbury Agricultural College (Bachelor of Applied Science), the University of New South Wales (Master of Safety Science), the University of New England (Diploma Australian Institute of Company Directors) and Western Sydney University (Doctor of Philosophy). He is the Chairman of Whiteley Corporation, and an Adjunct Fellow in the School of Medicine at Western Sydney University. He is the Collaboration Partner Study Director for an iMCRC Grant with the School of Medicine at Sydney University which is investigating Novel Solutions for Biofilm Mediated Infections and other forms of Biofilm Contamination.

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