Ultrasound gel and infections: Researchers propose guidelines to reduce risk

In the December issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, guidelines have been proposed by epidemiologists from Beaumont Health System to reduce the risk of infection from contaminated gels. The recommendations are based on the authors' own experiences with an outbreak traced to contaminated ultrasound transmission gel.

In December 2011, researchers uncovered an unusual cluster of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a cardiovascular surgery during routine infection control surveillance. The outbreak was found to have stemmed from bottles of ultrasound transmission gel that were contaminated during the manufacturing process and that were being used for intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography. This information ultimately led to a national recall of the product.

These gels contain parabens or methyl benzoate that inhibit, but not kill, the growth of bacteria. However, past studies have demonstrated that ultrasound gels do not have and could serve as a medium for . Contaminated gels have been found to be the source of other outbreaks of infection in the last two decades.

"After our investigation of the Pseudomonas outbreak last year linked the source of the outbreak to contaminated ultrasound gel, we were surprised to find that very little guidance is available on appropriate uses for different ultrasound gel products," said Susan Oleszkowicz, MPH, lead author of the paper.

In their article the authors outline initial guidelines for recommended uses of ultrasound transmission gels, calling on manufacturers of ultrasound gel and professional societies to take an active role in developing recommendations for appropriate and intended use of products.

Suggestions include: 1) the need for sterile, single-dose ultrasound gel in any or procedures involving non-intact skin or fresh surgical wounds; 2) sterile, single-dose ultrasound gel should be used with newborns or critically ill children; 3) multi-dose, nonsterile gel can still be used on intact skin, but containers should be sealed appropriately when not in use, and replaced when empty, rather than refilled.

More information: Susan C. Oleszkowicz, MPH; Paul Chittick, MD; Victoria Russo, MPH; Paula Keller, MS; Matthew Sims, MD, PhD; Jeffrey Band, MD; "Infections Associated with Use of Ultrasound Transmission Gel: Proposed Guidelines to Minimize Risk." Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 33:12 (December 2012).

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ultrasound being used to treat fractures

Oct 13, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Ultrasound, the diagnostic tool first developed at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in the 1950s to scan the body, is now being used in its fracture clinic to help heal fractured bones and speed up the recovery ...

New silver nanoparticle skin gel for healing burns

Jul 22, 2009

Scientists in India are reporting successful laboratory tests of a new and potentially safer alternative to silver-based gels applied to the skin of burn patients to treat infections. With names like silver ...

Recommended for you

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

1 hour ago

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

17 hours ago

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Jan 30, 2015

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

Jan 30, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.