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  1. Miner, Norman PhD
  2. Harris, Valerie BS
  3. Ebron, Towanda BS
  4. Cao, Thuy-Dung BS


Four endoscopes were cleaned by an experienced endoscopy technician using an enzyme detergent solution with brushing, rinsing with tap water, and then high-level disinfection in an automatic endoscope reprocessing machine using CIDEX orthophthalaldehyde solution (CIDEX OPA). After disinfection, the channels of these patient-ready endoscopes were flushed with sterile neutralizing medium, brushed with a sterile brush, and then flushed again with sterile medium. The effluent from each flush was collected in sterile bottles, immediately returned on ice to a laboratory, and tested for the presence of bacteria. An average of about 200 colony-forming units of bacteria were recovered from each endoscope. Upon staining and microscopic examination, 3 of these colonies were spore-forming bacteria, and 7 colonies were nonspore-forming bacteria. These results suggest that the endoscopes might have been contaminated with a biofilm.


Bacterial biofilms have been speculated to commonly occur in endoscopes as a result of the many possible inadequacies of cleaning, disinfecting, rinsing, drying, storage, and other functions associated with the difficulties of reprocessing endoscopes. As one possible cause for a biofilm, three high-level disinfectants (CIDEX activated dialdehyde solution, CIDEX OPA, and Aldahol high-level disinfectant) were tested for their sporicidal activity against high-protein or low-protein cultures of spore-forming bacteria in suspension. The potential importance of killing spore-forming bacteria within a practical exposure time in order to prevent the formation of biofilms is discussed.