Research presented this past weekend at the 40th annual conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., found that an average of 15 percent of flexible endoscopes used during gastrointestinal procedures and colonoscopies at five hospitals contained what is called biological dirt--cells and other materials from previously examined patients.
The study, which was conducted by 3M's infection prevention division, found that this biological dirt remained in the endoscopes even after cleaning.
"Three out of 20 is an unexpectedly high number of endoscopes failing a cleanliness criterion," Marco Bommarito, an investigator with 3M's infection prevention division, said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Clearly, we'd like no endoscopes to fail a cleanliness rating."
Study researchers analyzed 275 flexible duodenoscopes, gastroscopes and colonoscopies and found a cleanliness failure rate of 30 percent, 24 percent and 3 percent for each type of those endoscopes respectively.
"I expect this data set is large enough to be statistically representative of the situation out there" in other U.S. hospitals, Bommarito said, according to CNBC. According to Bommarito, the level of dirty scopes discovered in the study could contribute to yet more reluctance on the part of people to undergo endoscopies, particularly colonoscopies.