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Cleaning and disinfection of equipment for gastrointestinal flexible endoscopy: interim recommendations of a Working Party of the British Society of Gastroenterology.


1. All patients undergoing gastrointestinal endoscopy must be considered 'at risk' for HIV and appropriate cleaning/disinfection measures taken for endoscopes and accessories. 2. Thorough manual cleaning with detergent, of the instrument and its channels is the most important part of the cleaning/disinfection procedure. Without this, blood, mucus and organic material will prevent adequate penetration of disinfectant for inactivation of bacteria and viruses. 3. Aldehyde preparations (2% activated glutaraldehyde and related products) are the recommended first line antibacterial and antiviral disinfectant. A four minute soak is recommended as sufficient for inactivation of vegetative bacteria and viruses (including HIV and HBV). 4. Quaternary ammonium detergents (8% Dettox for two minutes for bacterial disinfection), followed by exposure of the endoscope shaft and channels to ethyl alcohol (70% for four minutes for viral inactivation), is an acceptable second-line disinfectant routine where staff sensitisation prevents the use of an aldehyde disinfectant. 5. Accessories, including mouthguards and cleaning brushes, require similarly careful cleaning/disinfection, before and after each use. Disposable products (especially injection needles) may be used and appropriate items can be sterilised by autoclaving and kept in sterile packs. 6. Closed circuit endoscope washing machines have advantages in maintaining standards and avoiding staff sensitisation to disinfectants. Improved ventilation including exhaust extraction facilities may be required. 7. Endoscopy staff should receive HBV vaccination, wear gloves and appropriate protective garments, cover wounds or abrasions and avoid needlestick injuries (including spiked forceps, etc). 8. Known HIV-infected or AIDS patients are managed as immunosuppressed, and require protection from atypical mycobacteria/cryptosporidia etc, by one hour aldehyde disinfection of endoscopic equipment before and after the procedure. A dedicated instrument is not required. 9. Increased funding is necessary for capital purchases of GI endoscopic equipment, including extra and immersible endoscopes with additional accessories to allow for safe practice. 10. Greater numbers of trained GI assistants are needed to ensure that cleaning/disinfection recommendations and safety precautions are followed, both during routine lists and emergency endoscopic procedures. 11. These recommendations are based on expert interpretation of current data on infectivity and disinfection; they may require future modification.

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