Medical Q&As

Endoscopy - scope contaminated?

Recently I attempted to donate blood at a mobile clinic but was turned away as I had a gastroscopy examination a month previously. The attendant said that it would be a year before I would be able to donate again. She said this was because the test was invasive and I could have 'picked something up'. When I went for the examination I was told that there was some risk of bleeding from the area, which was examined, but no information regarding any other side affect was mentioned. I am now very worried that I may have contracted a disease from previous patients who had the test on the same day. Could this be possible? I was actually awake for the examination and did not observe the doctor changing the scope or camera or even cleaning it. I now wish I did not have the examination as the results were negative anyway. Can you tell me should I be worried?

It is no more acceptable to re-use a non-cleaned endoscope than it would be to re-use surgical instruments that had not been sterilized properly. There are strict protocols in place regarding the sterilization of endoscopes. Manufacturers specify the methods that are to be used for sterilizing their particular instruments. There are several automated processors available such as washer disinfectors and ultrasonic cleaners, which ensure that the endoscope is free of pathogens before it is used on another patient. The chemical disinfectants that are used to clean endoscopes are very potent. The doctor performing the examination does not clean the endoscope. That task is delegated to a member of staff who is specifically trained in the appropriate cleaning of the scope. I would be very confident that you have no need to be worried about contracting an infection from a previous patient. The endoscope would have been properly cleaned before it was used on you.