- A small but intriguing study suggests that infant anti-gas drops — routinely injected into gastrointestinal scopes to reduce bubbles during colonoscopies and other procedures — may increase the risk of contamination, putting patients at risk, California Healthline reports.
- Research by Ofstead & Associates in St. Paul, MN, discovered a cloudy, white fluid in several that had been disinfected for use on a subsequent patient. Further analysis determined it was simethicone, the active ingredient in over-the-counter gas relief treatments.
- To make the drops more palatable for infants, sugars and thickeners are added, which could encourage bacteria to grow inside the scopes.
Another ingredient in the drops — silicone — also raised concerns because it doesn’t dissolve in water and is resistant to detergents and disinfectants. It can also promote growth of biofilm, which inhibits removal of bacteria during cleaning.
The report, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, comes as regulators have been investigating a spate of “superbug” infections linked to use of duodenoscopes. The new study focused on gastroscopes and colonoscopes, whose designs make them easier to disinfect.
"Finding residual fluid in scopes that should be dry would be troubling alone,” said Cori Ofstead, chief executive of the research firm and the study’s lead author. “The finding of fluid containing simethicone suggests we have more serious problems. It could explain why we are having more trouble getting these scopes clean.”
Michael Shaw, a gastroenterologist co-author of the study, said the findings “raise a number of questions,” but didn’t recommend halting use of the liquid drops since they improve visibility during scope exams. He’s seeking funding for further studies on the problem.