While endoscopy is generally safe, some issues still have to be considered. Among possible complications are adverse reactions to the sedative used and a potential perforation of the colon or rectum. However both risks are quite low.
A challenge that is much harder to address is hygiene – due to the complexity of manually cleaning and the inability to sterilize flexible endoscopes. While all equipment used in the operating room has to be sterilized before reuse, expensive but heat-sensitive flexible GI endoscopes would be damaged over time by the high temperatures of gas sterilization. Therefore another method – high level disinfection (HLD) – is used. Although the contamination level of GI endoscopes is much higher than that of instruments used in the OR, manual cleaning plus HLD is the current standard to reprocess GI endoscopes. Sterilization is the most effective means to reduce microbial load and is the gold standard for reusable medical devices.
Over the last years a rising number of cases have been reported, where patients have been exposed to infectious microorganisms by contaminated GI endoscopes, despite thorough manual cleaning and disinfection of those devices. While the cleaning staff at hospitals are doing a commendable job, endoscopes are notoriously difficult to clean as they contain a number of cavities virtually inaccessible for cleaning by hand or machines. Even if cleaning and disinfection is done properly the potential for residual microorganisms still exists.
To avoid the complexity and limitations of manual cleaning and disinfection the best solution to ensure hygienic safety is the use of sterile and single-use endoscopes, like the invendoscope.