A high prevalence of Hepatitis C in the Egyptian Nile Delta has increased the demand for upper-gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy.
The risk of cross-infection with this virus could also be increased.
Dr George Strickland and colleagues from Maryland assessed the potential for upper-GI endoscopy to transmit Hepatitis C when endoscopes are reprocessed according to current international standards.
|4 patients tested positive for anti-Hep C after upper-GI endoscopy |
The team detected the incidence of Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B cross-infections at an endoscopic unit in the Egyptian Nile Delta.
The research team identified 849 Hepatitis C-antibody negative patients.
The patients were retested 3 to 10 months after upper-GI endoscopy with endoscopes previously used on Hepatitis C carriers.
Nurses were trained to process endoscopes according to American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy guidelines.
The team observed and recorded the procedures.
Seroconversions were determined by using enzyme immunoassays for anti-Hepatitis C.
The researchers used reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction to detect Hepatitis C-ribonucleic acid.
The researchers found that 4 patients, initially tested negative, were positive for anti-Hepatitis C after upper-GI endoscopy .
However, 2 of these had Hepatitis C-ribonucleic acid in their baseline blood sample.
The researchers noted that the other 2 did not have Hepatitis C-ribonucleic acid in their follow-up sample.
The research team found that a very-high prevalence of anti-Hepatitis C in subjects reduced the proportion at risk of infection.
The team reported that follow-up was difficult.
Dr Strickland's team concluded, “There were no cases of proven transmission of Hepatitis C when endoscopes were reprocessed by using currently accepted standards.”
“This negative study is encouraging.
“Patients undergoing upper-GI endoscopy where Hepatitis C-caused liver disease is so pervasive would be at maximum risk of Hepatitis C cross-infection from upper-GI endoscopy.”