Colonoscopy is an endoscopic examination of the large bowel and the distal part of the small bowel with a CCD camera or a fiber optic camera on a flexible tube passed through the anus. Traditional colonoscopes can be used on hundreds or thousands of patients. Processed properly, it can be safe and effective to reuse these devices. The fact does stand that the handling of these devices is variable and sometimes does not meet the standard of care. Re-use has led to the transmission infections and even deaths. Due to these risks, we have in the past chosen to avoid this risk by limiting our service line and not offering endoscopic services.
This policy has only shifted care to centers that may or may not respect the inherent risks and have left a void in needed care. Due to the fact that these are valuable procedures and can provide a visual diagnosis and grants the opportunity for biopsy or removal of suspected colorectal cancer lesions, we have implemented a plan to eliminate these risks with single-use, disposable devices that will only be used on one patient, eliminating the risk of cross-contamination. We are exploring the use of disposable instruments and already use disposable supplies for high risk cross contamination procedures.
Disposable colonoscopes are single-use colonoscopes that have no cleaning cost or risk of disease transmission. They have a panoramic view that enables visualization of polyps behind colonic folds. The hydrophilic coating significantly reduces the forces on the colonic wall.
There is still debate over whether disposable colonoscopes will replace reusable ones. The disposable scopes are more expensive in the short run but if they prevent even one serious infection or death, the cost is justifiable.