Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, 50 Ilwon-Dong. Kangnam-Ku, Seoul 135-710, Korea.
BACKGROUND AND AIM: Two percent glutaraldehyde, the most widely used liquid chemical germicide (LCG), may be hazardous to patients and medical personnel. Alternatives to glutaraldehyde, such as electrolyzed acid water (EAW), are being developed, but data from well-controlled studies with patient-used endoscopes are rare. The purpose of the present paper was to evaluate the high-level disinfection capability of EAW and compare it with glutaraldehyde. METHODS: A random sample of 125 endoscopes was collected immediately after upper endoscopic examination. After careful manual cleaning, endoscopes were divided into a glutaraldehyde and EAW group. After the disinfection procedure, samples from working channel (S-1), insertion tube (S-2), umbilical cord (S-3), and angulation knob (S-4) were taken and cultured. Another twenty endoscopes were experimentally contaminated with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and samples were collected after contamination (T-1), after manual cleaning (T-2), and after final disinfection (T-3). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for HBV-DNA was performed. RESULTS: In the EAW group, culture-positive rates were 3.2% in S-1, 9.5% in S-2, 3.2% in S-3, and 27.0% in the S-4 samples. There was no significant difference between the EAW and glutaraldehyde groups for all sampling sites. However, in both groups, disinfection of the angulation knobs (S-4) was less efficient than the others. For the T-1 site, HBV-DNA was detected from all of them, and in 95% (19/20) of T-2. However, HBV-DNA was not detected from T-3 samples. CONCLUSIONS: Electrolyzed acid water is as efficient as glutaraldehyde in eliminating bacteria from patient-used endoscopes. After disinfection procedures using both methods, HBV-DNA was not detected from any endoscopes experimentally contaminated with HBV-positive mixed sera. However, some bacteria may remain on the surface of the endoscopes. Therefore, more careful precleaning of the endoscopes may help achieve high-level disinfection in the clinical setting.