How to Clean, Disinfect, and Sterilize Endoscopes
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How to Clean, Disinfect, and Sterilize Endoscopes

How to Clean, Disinfect, and Sterilize Endoscopes

February 06, 2023

Endoscopic equipment, like all medical tools, must strictly adhere to their specific cleaning procedures. Endoscopes must be carefully cleaned, disinfected and sterilized before and after each use. This will not only ensure the health and safety of you and your patients, but also provide peace of mind for everyone involved in the process. Below are general guidelines for cleaning endoscopic equipment for your reference. When using and cleaning any endoscopic equipment, be sure to follow the manufacturer's guidelines and all regulatory guidelines in your area.


Ensure patient safety

Since endoscopes are used to diagnose and treat medical conditions, they should be kept clean and sterile. One of the reasons for this is to prevent the formation of infections due to microbial growth. Another reason is to control the spread of infections that may already exist. The main risk for healthcare facilities is also the fear of spreading the infection. Whether the endoscope is used for diagnosis or therapy, the sterilization of the endoscope protects the patient from infection by bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that may be present on the medical device. It also protects endoscopic surgeons and future patients from becoming infected by microorganisms attached to the endoscope during or after a previous patient's endoscopy.



First, all debris must be removed from the endoscope so that it can be cleaned, disinfected and sterilized more effectively. Any remaining debris can interfere with or even inactivate the chemical solutions used to kill microbes. Debris may include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, chemical salts, and other substances from blood or body fluids.


Immediately after removing the endoscope from the patient, wipe it with a cloth or Surgical endoscope cleaning brush in a special cleaning agent. This cloth or sponge must be disposed of or sterilized between patients. The equipment should then be taken to a designated cleaning area. Rinse the endoscope with detergent until clear, then air dry. Air and waterways should be flushed according to instructions. Then put the endoscope into an airtight container and move it to the post-processing area for disinfection and sterilization. This area should be in a completely different room from where the surgery is performed to minimize the risk of contamination.


Manual cleaning

Manual cleaning should be performed once endoscopic equipment enters the designated cleaning area. Fill a basin with freshly prepared water solution and medical grade, neutral pH detergent (low foaming and specially formulated for endoscopes). Dilute and use according to manufacturer's instructions. Immerse the endoscope in the solution, brush and wipe with a small, soft disposable endoscope cleaning brush and a non-abrasive, lint-free cleaning tool. Scrub all channels of the endoscope with a compatible tool. Rinse and re-brush until no more visible debris. May need to soak some. Finally, rinse thoroughly and use forced air to remove all water from the endoscope. Wipe dry with a soft, lint-free cloth.



Disinfection and sterilization kills any microorganisms present on endoscopic equipment. Disinfectants and sanitizers should be used according to the manufacturer's recommendations and regularly tested for effectiveness. This part of the cleaning process can be done manually or with an automatic washing machine.


During manual disinfection and sterilization, the endoscope and all detachable parts should be immersed in the solution, and the disinfectant should rinse all channels without leaving air bubbles. The endoscope should remain in solution for the recommended length of time. All channels should be purged with air before removing the endoscope. Afterwards, it should be rinsed, dried, rinsed with alcohol and stored properly.


For automated disinfection, endoscopes should be manually cleaned before being placed in the machine. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and go through the entire cleaning cycle from start to finish, avoiding interruptions that require starting over. Small channels in some endoscopy tools may need to be manually reprocessed if the machine cannot do so. The final step should be an alcohol rinse cycle, which may need to be performed manually. Equipment should be carefully dried and stored to prevent contamination.

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