Background and study aims The preferred management of bleeding esophageal varices includes endoscopic band ligation. Endoscopic ligation devices (ELDs) are expensive and designed for single use, limiting their uptake in developing countries. We aimed to assess the efficacy of reprocessing ELDs using terminal microbial cultures and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) testing. Materials and methods ELDs were recovered after clinical use and their components (cap, handle, and cord) were subjected to reprocessing. This included manual cleaning, automated high-level disinfection (HLD), and drying with forced air. Using sterile technique, ELD components were sampled for ATP at three stages: before manual cleaning, after manual cleaning, and after HLD. Components were sent to an external laboratory for culturing. Cultures were interpreted as positive upon identification of Gram-negative bacilli. Results A total of 14 clinically used ELDs were studied, and 189 ATP tests and 41 cultures were evaluated. Overall, 95% (39/41) of components and 86% (12/14) of ELDs were culture-negative or did not yield Gram-negative bacilli. Two components (5%; one handle and one cord) harbored Gram-negative bacilli in quantities of 1 CFU per component. There was no apparent correlation between ATP at any juncture of reprocessing and terminal cultures. Conclusions Reprocessing of ELDs is effective, resulting in infrequent and minimal microbial contamination. Microbial culturing can be used to ensure adequacy of ELD reprocessing if pursued. Until reusable ELDs are commercially available, continued efforts to better define the adequacy and long-term effects of reprocessing ELDs are needed.
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