Written by Trisonics' Senior Territory Manager, Hobie Sears
The topic of ultrasound system cleaning and disinfection seems to be a hot button these days. I used to get questions on occasion about cleaning and disinfection; these days it is a weekly occurrence. So I am going to take this service tip to clarify some items and explain others. For this tip I'm going to be speaking about the ultrasound system itself. I will save the discussion of transducer cleaning and disinfection for another day.
First let’s realize there is a difference between cleaning and disinfection. Cleaning is just that, a process in which you are making the unit free of dust, dirt, fingerprints and grime. Disinfection is taking that cleaning to the next level and killing or removing harmful bacteria. Which is done and how often, must be decided at the local hospital level. My experience tells me that facilities have different rules and requirements, so take what I say here and fit it into your facilities’ needs.
Let’s start with cleaning, a simple process that I think most people make too difficult. For general cleaning the best product to use is mild soap and water. But before we go much farther, I must also add, always check with the user manual under cleaning for each product you have. While you may think a product is safe to clean a unit with, that is not always the case. Refer to user manuals for clarity. (Remember many units today have manuals available right from the keyboard.) Most manuals I have looked at allow for mild soap and water for cleaning; still, it is your responsibility to verify your products.
I find that a lot of Sonographers and Engineers want to use isopropyl alcohol. However, ultrasound gel is the most common substance found on an ultrasound unit. Ultrasound gel is water-soluble, so using isopropyl alcohol is counterproductive; it actually dries out the gel while you are cleaning it, often making it harder to get clean.
When using mild soap and water, it should be very mild. If soap particles get inside a user interface or between cosmetic panels, you may not be able to remove them when drying the unit. This can cause potential issues such as binding an elastomer inside a user interface. Also, you should never allow dripping water into any access point of the ultrasound unit, and do not ever spray the ultrasound unit directly with any cleaner.
As for disinfection of the unit, there are many different agents to pick from. Again, you must check with the manufacturer of your ultrasound unit. Do not assume what is okay with one manufacturer is okay with another; check them all! The guidelines here are simple: follow the directions of the disinfectant and your facility. Then come back over the unit and clean off any residue with water or mild soap and water. The residue from many disinfectants can cause problems over a long period of time.
In regards to disinfecting touch screens and LCD panels, you must be even more diligent. Most LCD panels are not to be cleaned with anything more than just water. Many touch screens can’t be cleaned with anything that contains ammonia (many glass cleaners contain ammonia). Ammonia can damage the touch layers on some touch screens. If you must disinfect an LCD or Touch panel, it is imperative that the residue be removed.
While no one likes to clean, it is certainly a large part of the process every day in healthcare facilities. Hopefully these tips will help keep a simple task from causing problems down the road. If you have further questions feel free to contact us at Trisonics or myself directly.