AIUM tackles confusion over ultrasonic disinfection practices

Laurel, MD – Cleaning and low-level disinfection (LLD) effective against blood-borne pathogens are safe and sufficient procedures to disinfect ultrasound transducers used in percutaneous procedures, according to an inter-company position statement issued by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), an organization of healthcare professionals dedicated to advancing the safe and effective use of medical ultrasound.1

Appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Ultrasound Medicine, the statement was published to dispel confusion over disinfection practices and ensure ultrasound equipment remains both safe and available. Originally published in February 2021, the statement was recently republished with the support of 20 healthcare organizations, together representing more than 790,000 doctors, nurses, infection control professionals and other healthcare professionals.

“Our hope is that the support of so many organizations will encourage widespread adoption of appropriate disinfection practices in clinical and professional settings, bringing significant benefits to patients,” said AIUM CEO Glynis Harvey, CAE.

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Debate on disinfection practices
The position statement was developed to respond to a growing debate about disinfection practices among practitioners in a wide range of medical specialties, says Oliver Kripfgans, PhD, medical ultrasound physicist and associate research professor at the University of Michigan who led the development of the declaration.

In many advanced medical procedures, ultrasound is a valuable tool for guiding needles, catheters, and other devices that are inserted through the skin. Such percutaneous procedures include vascular access, arthrocentesis, paracentesis, pericardiocentesis, thoracentesis, lumbar puncture, and delivery of regional anesthesia.

The current debate stems from the confusion over how ultrasound transducers should be disinfected between such procedures. Some practitioners have supported the use of high-level disinfection (HLD) techniques, which typically involve placing transducers in a device that exposes them to specialized disinfectant chemicals such as glutaraldehyde or a hydrogen peroxide mist. Many hospitals and infection control staff followed these recommendations due to infection concerns during the pandemic, believing HLD would provide an additional margin of safety.

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