UKHSA ultrasound gel guidance

A recap on the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) advice on good infection prevention: ultrasound gel

Published: 03 January 2023 Ultrasound

Did you know the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) advice on good infection prevention: ultrasound gel was updated on 26th May 2022 to make the advice clearer? 

Six key points:

Here are some key points to note:

  • There is evidence that non-sterile gel can be contaminated during the manufacturing process as well in the examination room.
  • Reports have traced serious infections back to the use of contaminated non-sterile gel on mucus membranes and non-intact skin, as well as during invasive procedures.
  • Good hand hygiene and cleaning the gel bottle with disinfectant wipes between use can prevent cross contamination.
  • Sterile gel should be used on non-intact skin such as psoriasis.
  • Pre-filled transvaginal probe covers containing non-sterile gel can be used if probe covers containing sterile gel are not available.  Care should be taken to avoid puncturing the probe cover.
  • The use of non-sterile gel in the 24 hours prior to surgery should be avoided, however if it has been used it should not delay clinically indicated surgery, such as caesarean section. Thorough skin cleaning is important in this case.

Ultrasound gel

Reflection prompts:

  • Have you read and understood the UKHSA guidance and have local protocols been updated to reflect the changes?
  • Have you changed the way you work since the introduction of the guidance?
  • Have you been made aware of any local issues with infection that might have been caused by contaminated ultrasound gel? 
  • What would you do if a patient complained and asked if the ultrasound gel might have caused an infection?
  • Are there any other ways that you can reduce risk of harm from ultrasound gel within your local unit/department?

Further reading:

UK Health Security Agency (2022) Good infection prevention: ultrasound gel

Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision/Getty Images