Potential testing of reprocessing procedures by real-time polymerase chain reaction: A multicenter study of colonoscopy devices

GISIO Working Group of the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine, and Public Health

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Reprocessing of endoscopes is key to preventing cross-infection after colonoscopy. Culture-based methods are recommended for monitoring, but alternative and rapid approaches are needed to improve surveillance and reduce turnover times. A molecular strategy based on detection of residual traces from gut microbiota was developed and tested using a multicenter survey. Methods: A simplified sampling and DNA extraction protocol using nylon-tipped flocked swabs was optimized. A multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test was developed that targeted 6 bacteria genes that were amplified in 3 mixes. The method was validated by interlaboratory tests involving 5 reference laboratories. Colonoscopy devices (n = 111) were sampled in 10 Italian hospitals. Culture-based microbiology and metagenomic tests were performed to verify PCR data. Results: The sampling method was easily applied in all 10 endoscopy units and the optimized DNA extraction and amplification protocol was successfully performed by all of the involved laboratories. This PCR-based method allowed identification of both contaminated (n = 59) and fully reprocessed endoscopes (n = 52) with high sensibility (98%) and specificity (98%), within 3-4 hours, in contrast to the 24-72 hours needed for a classic microbiology test. Results were confirmed by next-generation sequencing and classic microbiology. Conclusions: A novel approach for monitoring reprocessing of colonoscopy devices was developed and successfully applied in a multicenter survey. The general principle of tracing biological fluids through microflora DNA amplification was successfully applied and may represent a promising approach for hospital hygiene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Flocked swab sampling
  • Health care-associated infections
  • mfDNA
  • Sanitation
  • Surveillance


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