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Ultrasound Med Biol. 2017 Feb;43(2):421-426. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2016.09.004. Epub 2016 Oct 26.

Potential Infection Control Risks Associated with Ultrasound Equipment - A Bacterial Perspective.

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Faculty of Dentistry & Health Sciences, Charles Sturt University NSW, Australia; Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine (ASUM), Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine (ASUM), Sydney, NSW, Australia. Electronic address:
University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Department of High Risk Obstetrics, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia; Discipline of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Neonatology, Central Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


Ultrasound equipment used in trans-abdominal (TA) and trans-vaginal (TV) examination may carry bacterial contamination and pose risks to infection control during ultrasound examination. We aimed to describe the prevalence of bacterial contamination on ultrasound probes, gel, machine keyboard and cords and examined the effectiveness of low- and high-level disinfection techniques. This study was performed at a public hospital and a private practice. A total of 171 swabs were analyzed and bacterial species were identified using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) analysis and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Sixty percent of TA probes and 14% of TV probes had evidence of bacterial contamination after an ultrasound examination. Low-level disinfection was partially effective, but 4% of probes were still contaminated by spore-forming species. Some heated gel samples were highly contaminated with the environmental bacterium Brevundimonas aurantiaca, suggesting the gel was conducive to bacterial growth. Ultrasound machines, probe cords and gels were identified as potential sources of bacterial contamination and need to be cleaned and changed regularly to minimize risks of infection.


Bacterial contamination; Disinfection; Healthcare-associated infection; Patient safety; Ultrasound

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