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Bacterial contamination of ultrasound probes in different radiological institutions before and after specific hygiene training: do we have a general hygienical problem?

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Aim was to investigate hygienic conditions of ultrasound probes before and after hygiene training in radiology institutions in comparison to bacterial contamination in public places.


In three radiology departments, bacterial contamination was evaluated using baseline agar plates for cultures taken from 36 ultrasound probes. Afterwards teams were trained by a hygiene service centre and 36 ultrasound probes were routinely disinfected with regular disinfecting wipes and then evaluated. In comparison, bacterial contamination in public places (bus poles, n = 11; toilet seats, n = 10) were analysed. Plates were routinely incubated and the number of colony forming units (CFU) analysed.


Cultures taken from the probes showed a median of 53 CFU before and 0 CFU after training (p < 0.001). Cultures taken from public places showed a median of 4 CFU from toilets and 28 from bus poles and had lower bacterial load in comparison to ultrasound probes before training (p = 0.055, toilets; p = 0.772, bus poles), without statistical significance.


Bacterial contamination of ultrasound probes prior to hygiene training proved to be high and showed higher bacterial load than toilets seats or bus poles. Radiologists should be aware that the lack of hygiene in the field of ultrasound diagnostics puts patients at risk of healthcare-associated infections.

Key points

Hospital-associated infections are a problem for patient care.

Hygiene training of staff prevents bacterial contamination of ultrasound probes.

Disinfection of ultrasound probes is an easy method to protect patients.

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We would like to thank Daniela Jegher from St. Anna Clinic in Lucerne (Switzerland), who led and organized hygiene training of the radiology team in an outstanding manner. We would also like to thank Andrea Pfeifer from the statistical service centre University Zürich for evaluating biomathemathical data.

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Correspondence to Andreas Gutzeit.

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The scientific guarantor of this publication is Andreas Gutzeit.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.


The authors state that this work has not received any funding.

Statistics and biometry

Andrea Pfeifer kindly provided statistical advice for this manuscript.

Ethical approval

Approval from the institutional animal care committee was not required because no animals were included.


• prospective

• randomised controlled trial

• multicentre study

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Sartoretti, T., Sartoretti, E., Bucher, C. et al. Bacterial contamination of ultrasound probes in different radiological institutions before and after specific hygiene training: do we have a general hygienical problem?. Eur Radiol 27, 4181–4187 (2017).

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