Contamination of reusable electroencephalography electrodes: A multicenter study


      • 25% of cleaned, reusable EEG cup electrodes and lead wires had bacterial growth.
      • Of the bacterial species, most were potential risk and at risk for causing human infection.
      • Cleaned, reusable EEG electrodes pose a risk of patient cross-contamination.


      Reusable electroencephalography cup electrodes and lead wires (rEEGs-CELWs) could be a source of microorganisms capable of causing hospital-acquired infections. The purpose of this study was to investigate for bacterial species of cleaned rEEGs-CELWs.


      This microbiologic evaluation involved 4 epilepsy monitoring units where rEEGs-CELWs were swabbed for bacteria using standard techniques. Analyses involved descriptive statistics and logistic regression (across sites).


      Of 124 swabs, 31 (25.0%; range, 13.3%-43.3%) showed positive bacterial cultures, without between-site differences (P = .17). Bacteria were labeled by risk for hospital-acquired infection: no risk, potential risk (primarily in immunocompromised patients), and at risk (associated with infections and antibiotic resistance). At-risk bacteria species were Staphylococcus epidermidis (38.7%), Staphylococcus capitis subsp ureolyticus (3.2%), and Staphylococcus haemolyticus (9.6%). Potential-risk species were Micrococcus spp (22.6%), Acinetobacter lwoffii (6.5%), Staphylococcus hominis subsp hominis (6.5%), and Staphylococcus warneri (6.5%). Bacillus (9.6%) was the only no-risk species. Of 18 antibiotics tested on positive cultures, resistant bacteria were found in a median of 1 (range, 0-11) positive culture, equating to a 6.7% (range, 0%-61.1%) resistant antibiotic rate; no microorganisms were resistant to all antibiotics tested.


      Bacteria that were potential risk or at risk for infection were found on 22.6% of cleaned rEEGs-CELWs. Use of single-use electrodes and research on scalp infection and infection reduction interventions are warranted.

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