Proper safety techniques and precautions go a long way to ensuring that the endoscopy procedure is carried out as safely as possible. The safety precautions must strictly adhere to guidelines set forth by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
The first step in the cleaning process is a thorough manual cleaning. Both the external body of the endoscope and the operating channels are cleaned by hand, after which a special liquid containing enzymes that act to literally eat away at potentially harmful bacteria and other microbes that may be present. After these two processes are complete, special cleaning instruments are used to again manually clean the scope.
After the first step of cleaning is finished, the endoscope is checked for any mechanical leaks that may be present. This not only ensures the endoscope is functioning at its most optimum level, but acts to alert staff to any internal damage that could potentially cause infections to the patient. If damage is present, an endoscope repair technician will make all necessary repairs and fully test it before putting it back to work.
After the endoscope is tested for leaks, the endoscope is soaked for a lengthy amount of time in a strong disinfectant solution. While the specific solution used will vary by medical facility, any disinfectant solution used will be more than strong enough to kill the Aids virus, hepatitis, and a host of other harmful organisms. Only benign spores will remain after undergoing this intense disinfection process.
After the endoscope is disinfected, the device is flushed clean first with sterile water and then with alcohol before being allowed to air dry. The drying process ensures that no harmful bacteria will grow in any moisture that is present. Once the endoscope is finished drying, it is hung on a specialized hangar so that it remains dry and kept in a state of sterility.
All of these steps work in conjunction with each other to keep patients safe and healthy while undergoing any medical procedures that require the use of an endoscope.