Expecting Parent Alert: Ultrasounds Linked To Infection Risk

Expecting Parent Alert: Ultrasounds Linked To Infection Risk

Intra-cavity ultrasound probes still pose a risk of cross-infecting patients even after undergoing a standard manual disinfection procedure, a new Australian study has found. The process of soaking the probes in a liquid disinfectant usually leaves large quantities of bacteria on the handles.

Ultrasound picture from Shutterstock

Researchers from the East Melbourne Ultrasound Clinic tested for bacteria on the handles of 51 intra-cavity ultrasound probes which had undergone a standard decontamination process. They discovered that almost all swab samples collected from manually decontaminated probes showed signs of bacteria on the handle after the disinfection process.

“The inability to fully submerge these probes in the liquid disinfectant creates a safe haven for bacteria on the handle,” said chief researcher Dr Andrew Ngu.

“While it is important to note these probes are used with a protective sheath, and the handle does not enter the body, the presence of bacteria on a medical device does pose a risk of cross-infection for patients.”

The report concludes that stricter disinfection standards or techniques are required to ensure high-level disinfection of the entire probe including its handle. In the meantime, if you’re expecting a baby and require an intra-cavity ultrasound probe, it might be a good idea to bring along some anti-bacterial wet wipes.

Alternatively, stick to a hospital that uses trophon EPR decontamination units which were found to remove all traces of infectious bacteria in the study.


  • I take severe issue on your headline, and indeed the assertion that this study proves an increase risk of infection. You have stumbled upon the correlation-causation fallacy.

    Nowhere anywhere in the study did they find an increased level of infection due to these findings; nor did they positively assert in increased risk.

    Whilst the finding is certainly interesting, and may lead to more investigation being done; there was no associated risk with the device as the handle does not interact with the patients; as the study points out.

    Certainly the trophon EPR units are more effective, but neither have been linked to higher infection rates.

    Your off the hand remark about antibacterial wet wipes is also worrying, as you are not qualified to give medical advise, and are obviously unaware that certain types of commercially available wipes are often devoid of antibacterial properties as they are not made to medical standards.

    I lament at your addition to the absurdly inaccurate and fear-mongering quality of health science reporting; which is the leading cause of distrust of the medical field in the population; which, if you were wondering; IS a leading cause of death in patients.

    • I totally agree. I was going to point out exactly this- with one addition:

      The failure to provide source material increases the likelyhood of people not checking the validity of the claims.

  • It would also be useful to clarify that the study looked at INTRA cavity ultrasound probes. It would be pretty unusual for an expectant mother to be having and INTRA-cavity ultrasound, they would almost certainly be having an ultrasound scan with an EXTRA-cavity probe.

    I really think your should change the headline as the two topics are barely linked.

Log in to comment on this story!