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Prospective analysis of SARS-CoV-2 dissemination to environmental surfaces during endoscopic procedures. Endosc Int Open 2021 May;9(5):E701-E705



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Background and study aims  The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted routine medical care due to uncertainty regarding the risk of viral spread. One major concern for viral transmission to both patients and providers is performing aerosol-generating procedures such as endoscopy. As such, we performed a prospective study to examine the extent of viral contamination present in the local environment before and after endoscopic procedures on COVID-19 positive patients. Materials and methods  A total of 82 samples were collected from 23 surfaces in the procedure area of four COVID-positive patients undergoing upper endoscopic procedures. Samples were collected both before and after the procedure. severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA was extracted and quantified using reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction with primers to detect nucleocapsid RNA, and results reported as the number of viral copies per square centimeter of contaminated surface. Results  A total of six positive samples were detected from three of the four patients. The floor beneath the patient bed was the most common site of viral RNA, but RNA was also detected on the ventilator monitor prior to the procedure and the endoscope after the procedure. Conclusions  The risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission associated with upper endoscopy procedures is low based on the low rate of surface contamination. Some surfaces in close proximity to the patient and endoscopist may pose a higher risk for contamination. Patient positioning and oxygen delivery methods may influence the directionality and extent of viral spread. Our results support the use of appropriate personal protection to minimize risk of viral transmission.

Author List

Somerville CC, Shoaib M, Kuschner CE, Brune Z, Trindade AJ, Benias PC, Becker LB


Carter C. Somerville PhD Research Scientist I in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin