Anal Probes Contaminated by Anti-Gas Drops

Researchers find cloudy residue containing anti-gas ingredient inside already-disinfected medical scopes.

Endoscope / Photo: Dave King/Dorling Kindersley/Science Museum, London/Science Source
Endoscope / Photo: Dave King/Dorling Kindersley/Science Museum, London/Science Source

An August 25th NPR article covered a troubling new study that suggests gas relief drops designed for infants may contribute to contaminated medical scopes. Researchers in Minnesota identified a cloudy fluid lingering inside several sterilized colonoscopes and gastroscopes. The fluid contained simethicone, the main ingredient in over-the-counter anti-gas medication used to reduce bubbles during colonoscopies. Because the drops contain silicone, they are impervious to water, detergents, and disinfectants.

Although no infections have been linked to the drops, the data collected suggests they can heighten the risk of contamination. Medical experts say the complex design of the scope makes it difficult to clean, even when following the manufacturer’s instructions. Perhaps the best solution is to develop a disposable component for a device that probes multiple patients.

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