Currently, rigid and flexible endoscopes, including gastrointestinal, urological, and respiratory endoscopes, are reused following cleaning and high-level disinfection. However, studies suggest that current techniques are not effective and cracks, corrosion, discoloration, and debris or organic residue often remain.
Author Cori L. Ofstead, MSPH, of Ofstead & Associates, Inc. found that "Even though top-notch methods were used, the endoscopes in this study had visible signs of damage and debris, and tests showed high proportions were still contaminated." All 20 endoscopes had visual irregularities, such as fluid, discoloration, and debris in their channels.
The American Journal of Infection Control found the need to visually inspect and verify cleanings to ensure that the endoscopes are free of damage and debris before they are used on another patient.
Using a borescope like our MICRON USB Videoscope in a 1mm or 2mm diameter to inspect internal channels is an additional step that ensures the quality of the endoscope's reprocessing program.
Both ST911 and AORN endoscope guidelines highlight the process with AORN stating that "Internal channels of flexible endoscopes may be inspected using an endoscopic camera or borescope. These units penetrate the lumen and allow for improved visual inspection. The units that we sell come in lengths from 1 meter (3.3ft) to 3 meters (9.8 ft) with a built in LED illumination system, so you can inspect a wide range of lumens.
Many facilities inspect their scopes periodically after the disinfection process is complete and the scopes are in storage. If issues are found the scope needs to be reprocessed again before use. By performing inspection at this stage, a facility can assess their internal drying practices and clearly determine whether their performance is adequate or not. According to SGNA, scopes must be completely dry prior to storage or should not be used on patients without being reprocessed again.
Other facilities perform inspection with a borescope after manual cleaning, prior to disinfection or sterilization. However, at this point the scopes are highly contaminated and completely wet internally. A complete drying procedure would need to be initiated after cleaning in order to properly inspect them using a borescope to get the best image from inside the lumen.
In using a MICRON USB Videoscope, observing things like moisture inside the channel, would highlight deficiencies in the drying process, retained lint/fibers would indicate that staff members are not using low or lint-free clothes, and visually observing gouges or scraping from tools would confirm heavily damaged Internal channels in need of repair/service, or new tools. As our Micron Videoscope is a USB color CMOS camera, you view the live inspection on a computer or laptop and are easily able to capture images and video to document each endoscope for your records.
All of these sources recommend using a borescope to inspect reusable medical devices after the cleaning process. Without this it is impossible to confirm that the lumens are clean. Using a device like the Micron USB Videoscope is the best way to inspect lumens, catheters, or even needles, to prevent infection in future patients.