Bacteria on 80% of transvaginal ultrasound probe handles

Dr Glenn McNally told the 23rd world congress on Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology that bulk disinfectants like glutaraldehyde used to sterilise the probes did not disinfect the handle.

Dr McNally, who is a past president of the Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine, presented data showing that 80% of ultrasound probe handles were contaminated after manual disinfection, compared with only 8% when a technique that also disinfected the handle was used, and 5% in a sham control.

Around a third of the microbial contaminants detected on the manually disinfected probes were pathogens that commonly cause infections, with 15% positive for Staphylococcus aureus and 3% positive for Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

One of the 12 Staphylococcus aureus isolates was methicillin resistant.

Dr McNally said the extent of contamination suggested there was a risk of more serious pathogens, such as those that cause sexually transmitted diseases,