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Transvaginal ultrasound probe contamination by the human papillomavirus in the emergency department
  1. Shuk Ting Christine Ma1,
  2. A C Yeung2,
  3. Paul Kay Sheung Chan2,
  4. Colin A Graham1
  1. 1Accident and Emergency Medicine Academic Unit, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  2. 2Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shuk Ting Christine Ma, Resident, Accident & Emergency Medicine Academic Unit, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2/F, Main Clinical Block and Trauma Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, N.T, Hong Kong; christinema524{at}


Objective To determine if human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA can be detected on the transvaginal sonography (TVS) probe in the emergency department (ED) and whether the current barrier method plus disinfection can prevent HPV contamination of the TVS probe.

Methods This was a two-part cross-sectional study. In the first part, surveillance samples were taken from the TVS probe for HPV DNA detection daily for 2 months. In the second part, patients presenting with early pregnancy complications were identified in the ED and high vaginal swabs were taken for HPV DNA testing. Several probe swabs were taken to identify if contamination was possible in cases where the procedure was done on an HPV carrier.

Results A total of 120 surveillance samples were obtained, nine of which (7.5%) tested positive for HPV DNA. In the second part, 76 women were recruited, of whom 14 (18.4%) were HPV carriers. After the procedure and disinfection of the probe, three out of the 14 probe samples (21%) were HPV DNA positive.

Conclusions HPV is commonly encountered in the ED and contamination of the TVS probe with HPV is possible. Although it is difficult to prove the viability and infectivity of the virus, vigilant infection control measures should be maintained.

  • Emergency service
  • disinfection
  • ultrasonography
  • cross-infections
  • human papillomavirus
  • emergency department
  • prehospital care
  • resuscitation
  • paediatric resuscitation
  • trauma
  • ventilation

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