The “Getting to Zero” meeting was recently convened by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Center for GI Innovation and Technology where best practices to prevent antibiotic-resistant infections after duodenoscopies were discussed. The meeting gathered experts in infectious diseases, epidemiology and gastroenterology along with endoscope manufacturers Fuji and Pentax and representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the ECRI Institute.
Experts agree that screening tests for colon cancer should not be avoided, in spite of the risks for infection caused by the procedure. According to what has been reported by the AGA, the number of antibiotic-resistant infections is increasing from the use of the duodenoscope, a specialized medical device for advanced endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography procedures (ERCP).
While this may be the case, colon cancer health practitioners are committed to curtailing the incidence of infection caused by colonoscopies in order to ensure that the procedure is utilized by patients. John I. Allen, AGA President, said in a press release: “More than 500,000 ERCPs are performed each year throughout the U.S., saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients with very serious illnesses. The value of these procedures cannot be understated. AGA is committed to finding a path forward to remove the risk of device-transmitted infections and ensure safe patient care.”
“We must stop device-associated infections. It’s a complex issue without an easy solution, but first we need to protect our patients,” noted Michael Kochman, the chair of the AGA Center for GI Innovation and Technology. Kochman noted the necessity of redesigning endoscopes, educating patients and discovering new ways to keep them sterile.
The complex design of the elevator channel in duodenoscopes allows the deposition of bacteria even after the object has been cleaned, causing transmission of serious infections. The AGA suggests guidance and further recommendations to patients, physicians and manufacturers to ensure patient awareness. Their recommendations can be accessed here.
What Patients Need to Know
Most people will never have to undergo an ERCP but it can be a life-saving procedure; this is the least invasive method to diagnose and treat health issues concerning pancreatic and bile ducts such as infections, tumors, stones, and blockages. According to experts,there is no infection transmission risk associated with colonoscopy or upper endoscopy. As a result, patients should not avoid or delay these procedures, as the therapeutic benefits obtained from this procedure far outweigh the associated risk of infection.