Awareness of challenges related to infection control and the reprocessing of reusable bronchoscopes, on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, have inspired new innovation in the world of single-use bronchoscopes.
A recent review by researchers from Cleveland Clinic and Cork University Hospital in Cork, Ireland, concluded that those factors were instrumental in single-use bronchoscope technology progressing beyond the ICU setting and into the bronchoscopy suite.
“Not only does SUFB technology provide a portable and immediately accessible bronchoscope for procedures in the ICU and endoscopy suite, it also is a sterile option for standard bronchoscopy procedures thus avoiding infection related to scope contamination,” the authors wrote.
Even before the global pandemic, there was growing evidence of the risk of infection following bronchoscopy procedures, with the leading causes being scope damage and inadequate cleaning, according to the research.
Once the global pandemic arrived, single-use bronchoscope use grew thanks to their portability, accessibility, sterility and the fact that staff does not need to prepare or clean the scopes.
Related Content: Study Examines Reusable Bronchoscope Cross-Contamination Rate
This is “even more relevant in the immunocompromised population, such as lung transplant recipients who require frequent bronchoscopies,” the authors wrote.
Bronchoscopes’ inner tubes, along with abnormalities and fissures on the surface, are breeding grounds for biofilm which can harbor harmful pathogens, the review said.
Reusable endoscopes, including reusable bronchoscopes, are associated with more infection outbreaks than any other medical equipment, according to the review.
Ambu developed the first single-use bronchoscope in 2009, and the med-tech has since added to its portfolio with the Ambu aScope 5 Broncho HD designed for the bronchoscopy suite.
It also was first to market with an Ultrathin scope equipped with a working channel. In addition, Ambu’s thin bronchoscope features a regular-sized working channel.
There’s been “an exciting surge in research and innovation in the field of” single-use flexible bronchoscopes, the authors conclude. The cost-effectiveness of single-use scopes needs ongoing analysis — though the cost of infection tips the scales in the favor of single-use devices — and the scopes’ “environmental implications” need to be evaluated.