Microbiological evaluation of different reprocessing methods for cuffed and un-cuffed tracheostomy tubes in home-care and hospital setting

Matthias Leonhard, Ojan Assadian, Michaela Zumtobel, Berit Schneider-Stickler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Manufacturers’ recommendations on cleaning of tracheostomy tubes focus on general warning information and non-specific manual cleaning procedures. The aim of this experimental study was to evaluate different reprocessing methods and to determine the mechanical integrity and functionality of tracheostomy tubes following reprocessing.

Methods: Sixteen cuffed or un-cuffed tracheostomy tubes obtained from hospital in-patients were reprocessed using one of the following reprocessing methods: a) manual brushing and rinsing with tap water, b) manual brushing followed by disinfection with a glutaraldehyde solution, c) manual brushing followed machine-based cleaning in a dishwasher, and d) manual brushing followed by ultrasound cleaning in a commercially available ultrasound device. Microbial burden of the tubes before and after reprocessing was assessed by measurement of microbial colony-forming units per mL (CFU/mL) of rinsing fluid. After cleaning, tracheostomy tubes were investigated for loss of functionality.

Findings: Manual brushing and rinsing with tap water reduced microbial colonization in average by 102 CFU/mL, but with poor reproducibility and reliability. Complete microbial reduction was achieved only with additional chemical or machine-based thermal disinfection. Ultrasound sonification yielded no further microbial reduction after manual brushing.

Conclusion: Manual brushing alone will not result in complete eradication of microorganism colonising cuffed or un-cuffed tracheostomy tubes. However, manual cleaning followed by chemical or thermal disinfection may be regarded as safe and reproducible reprocessing method. If a machine-based reprocessing method is used for cuffed tubes, the cuffs’ ventilation hose must be secured in a safe position prior to thermal disinfection.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberDoc02
Number of pages7
JournalGMS Hygiene and Infection Control
Volume11
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2016

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