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Microbiologic contamination of ultrasound transducers utilized by anesthesiologists in the operating room and ICU


Ultrasound is increasingly used to facilitate central venous catheter and regional anesthetic block placement [1, 2]. Bacterial colonization of ultrasound probes has been demonstrated and the potential for cross-contamination between patients exists [3]. There are few, if any, studies investigating this for procedures performed by anesthesiologists, in the operating room and ICU.


Following Institutional Review Board approval, 18 ultrasound probes utilized by anesthesiologists were sampled after 1 week of average usage during 2 months in 2008. Standard microbiologic techniques were used [4]. Data were recorded, stored securely, and analyzed using appropriate statistics.


Sixty-nine samples were obtained. Forty-nine percent of samples showed bacterial colonization. Coagulase-negative staphylococcus was identified in 42.6%. The incidence of Staphylococcus aureus (1.4%) and Gram-negative bacteria (4.4%) was low.


Ultrasound probes utilized in busy operating rooms and ICUs at a tertiary-care facility are a potential source for contamination and cross-contamination. Further studies of ultrasound use, probe contamination with the potential to serve as a vector for pathogens, and cleaning protocols are indicated.


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Lytle, F., Knoll, B. & Comfere, T. Microbiologic contamination of ultrasound transducers utilized by anesthesiologists in the operating room and ICU. Crit Care 13 (Suppl 1), P290 (2009).

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  • Operating Room
  • Staphylococcus Aureus
  • Central Venous Catheter
  • Institutional Review Board Approval
  • Bacterial Colonization