Oh, the fun you can have with a urinary catheter and a drain

We have blogged a fair bit recently about the risk of antibiotic-resistant Gram-negative bacterial contamination of sinks and drains. A new study offers a novel approach to this problem: by repurposing a balloon catheter to extend the duration of contact between a disinfectant and the sink-end of the pipe.

We know that sinks and drains become contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Gram-negatives, and that these bacteria can find their way from sinks and drains to patients. But what to do about this issue? A few solutions have shown promise: use a foaming disinfectant, or even take the sinks and drains out of the clinical areas! Another, slightly less radical option than removing the sinks and drains altogether is to cleverly repurpose a balloon catheter to extend the duration of contact between a disinfectant and the sink-end of the pipe.

The urinary catheter was inserted to a depth of 6 inches and then inflated. The disinfectant was then applied (OxyCide, a sporicidal disinfectant that mixed peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide) and left for 1 hour. For a control, the same volume of disinfectant was poured down the drain. The mean concentration of Gram-negative rods cultured from a depth of 1 inch from 12 test drains and 8 control drains shows a pretty impressive impact from this approach, sustained over a couple of weeks.

Figure: Impact of disinfecting a drain by pouring down a disinfectant vs. a 1-hour contact time using the balloon catheter on contamination with Gram-negative rods at a depth of 1 inch below the strainer.

Importantly, 4 of the test drains had to be excluded because the balloon either popped or leaked. It goes without saying that these catheters were not designed for this job – but this study works as a proof of concept that there could be a similar product designed to improve the efficacy of drain disinfection.

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