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Archive July 2019 XX, No. 7

How to Keep Your Endoscope Channels Dry

Tips for preventing residual moisture from collecting after reprocessing.

Kendal Gapinski

Kendal Gapinski, Contributing Editor


TOWELING OFF Wiping down endoscopes after they've been disinfected is the first step of a proactive drying approach.

You can manually clean an endoscope until it shines and examine every millimeter of its insertion tube for pinhole leaks, but none of that matters if fluid remains in the scope's interior channels. The challenge, of course, is that endoscope channels aren't visible to the naked eye, so any retained moisture is hidden from reprocessing staff. And a little fluid can cause big problems.

"Residual moisture allows for bacteria and biofilm growth — both of which put patients at risk of cross contamination," says John Whelan, BSN, RN, who recently retired from his position as system project manager for high-level disinfection at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor.

How concerned should you be? In 2018, Cori L. Ofstead, MSPH, co-authored a study of endoscope reprocessing, drying and storage practices at 3 hospitals. Her research team found residual fluid in 22 of 45 endoscopes tested and detected microbial growth in 71% of endoscopes stored for 24 hours ( Retained fluid was associated with significantly higher microbial growth within the endoscopes, notes the study.

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