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Why Hospitals are Making the Switch to Sterile Ultrasound Gel

Until recent years, facilities across the country have used non-sterile ultrasound gel bottles as their go-to for the majority of their ultrasound procedures, with single-use, sterile ultrasound gel packets only being used for critical procedures.

However, with infection prevention and control at the forefront of every hospital and health system’s protocols, many are making the switch to sterile ultrasound gel packets for all procedures to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and bacterial infections.

In today’s post, we will go over the importance of sterile ultrasound gel and why your facility should make it the standard of care.

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Preventing Infection

One of the best ways to prevent infection and the spread of microorganisms during an ultrasound procedure is to use sterile ultrasound gel packets.

When non-sterile ultrasound gel, such as 250ml bottles, is used for a procedure the risk for contamination is increased. Non-sterile gel has been known to become contaminated by bacteria, especially if the ultrasound gel bottle makes contact with the patient’s skin. Using single-use sterile gel packets will help prevent cross-contamination for both patients and sonographers and greatly reduce the risk of hospital-associated infections (HAIs).

Maintain a Sterile Technique

While a sterile field may not be required for all ultrasound procedures maintaining a sterile technique should be used for most procedures and is an important component of infection prevention. This involves using a sterile ultrasound probe cover, sterile ultrasound gel, and gloves.

When a sterile field is required, EcoVue Ultrasound Gel’s SafeWrap® sterile packaging should be used along with a sterile ultrasound probe cover.

Designed for safety

SafeWrap® Sterile Packaging

Available in the original medium viscosity formula and high viscosity formula, EcoVue Sterile Ultrasound Gel single-use 20g packets with SafeWrap® provide a sterile field-ready solution to meet the increasingly stringent infection prevention and control demands of today’s healthcare environment.

EcoVue Ultrasound Gel Sterile SafeWrap Products - Item #280 & #380

When to use Sterile vs. Non-Sterile Ultrasound Gel

Ultrasound procedures carry different risks depending on the likelihood of exposure to bacteria, contact with body fluids and the degree of invasiveness of the procedure. Based on the Spaulding Classification and the SDMS Guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control in Sonography (May 20, 2020), sterile gel packets are the recommended ultrasound gel for all critical procedures and are preferred for semi-critical procedures. Non-sterile gel packets are preferred for non-critical procedures. Multi-use gel bottles should not be used for critical or semi-critical procedures. If you have questions regarding when you should use sterile vs. non-sterile ultrasound gel, be sure to reference the below table.

Spaulding ClassificationDefinitionUltrasound Gel
CriticalUltrasound gel is being used on sterile tissues, including biopsies, intraoperative, and vascular guidanceSterile, single-use packets
Semi-criticalUltrasound gel comes in contact with non-intact skin or mucous membranes but does not penetrate themSterile, single-use packets (preferred) or non-sterile, single-use packets
Non-criticalUltrasound gel touches only intact skin and not mucous membranesNon-sterile, single-use packets (preferred), non-sterile, multi-use gel (bottle, flexpac®, tube)

The use of sterile ultrasound gel is key to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for your ultrasound patients. If your facility does not already use sterile ultrasound gel packets, request a sample of EcoVue® Ultrasound Gel today.