There is little information available on the bacteriological contamination of upper gastrointestinal fibreoptic endoscopes during routine use and the effects of 'disinfecting solutions'. A bacteriological evaluation was therefore made of cleaning an endoscope and its ancillary equipment with (1) water, (2) an aqueous solution of 1% cetrimide with 0.1% chlorhexidine, and (3) activated aqueous 2% glutaraldehyde. All equipment, but particularly the endoscope itself, was found to be heavily contaminated after use with a wide variety of organisms of which 53% were Gram positive. Cleaning the endoscope and ancillary equipment with water and the cetrimide/chlorhexidine solution alone or in combination was inadequate to produce disinfection but immersion in glutaraldehyde for two minutes consistently produced sterile cultures with our sampling technique. A rapid and simple method for disinfection of endoscopic equipment is therefore recommended and we think this is especially suitable for busy endoscopy units.
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