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Evaluation of Nasendoscope Sheaths Used as Protective Barriers

      BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Flexible nasendoscopy is an important procedure that's use is ever increasing in ambulatory care settings. However, there are no ENT endoscope reprocessing guidelines other than those put forth by the manufacturers. In the 1990's a sterile barrier sheath protection system between the scope and the patient was developed for use; current technology includes a nasendoscope sheath. Recent guidelines suggest endoscopes employing disposable components (e.g., protective barrier devices or sheaths) can provide an alternative to conventional liquid chemical high-level disinfection/sterilization. To date, no studies in the literature address the following: Does the sheath maintain its integrity in use, does the sheath protect the in-use nasendoscope from microbial contamination, and does this protection justify reprocessing of the nasendoscope to include thorough cleaning with enzymatic detergent, followed by 70% ethanol wipe of the entire instrument and air dry – eliminating the use of high-level disinfectants?
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