Sterile Ultrasound Gel: When & How?

sterile ultrasound gel

Sterile Ultrasound Gel: When & How?

Sterile Ultrasound Gel: When to Use It? How to Use It?

Ultrasound gels come in different colors – clear, blue or pink – and shapes – dispenser bottle, single-use packet – that clinicians can to choose from for their exams. However, when it comes to infection control, only one question matters: non-sterile or sterile ultrasound gel?

As you know, EDM Medical Solutions is all about infection control. So, in addition to probe covers and disinfection, let’s see how your choice of ultrasound jelly will reduce the risks of cross-contamination in your service/practice.

There are 3 different scenarios in which you’ll want to use sterile gel:

  • If your transducer is in contact with a mucous membrane: We are basically talking about transrectal and transvaginal ultrasound exams.
  • If your transducer is in contact with non-intact skin
  • During surgical ultrasounds

It’s no wonder two of the three procedures fall into the second category of the Spaulding classification: the semi-critical devices. Also, the third one is classified as a critical device. (for more details about the Spaulding classification, click here). If the CDC has issued strict guidelines for the cleaning, disinfection, sterilization and reprocessing of ultrasound probes, you should set stricter rules for yourself as far as ultrasound gel goes.

When to use sterile ultrasound gel?

As mentioned above, your transducer is in contact with a mucous tissue during endocavity exams. Even when using a proper probe cover (which you should!) the risk of transmitting infections remains. There are 2 reasons not to use non-sterile gel for endo procedures: you can contaminate your patient with an already-contaminated gel, or you can contaminate your gel container when dealing with risky/infected patients.

If your gel container is already contaminated (from the factory or from a previous patient), the odds of transmitting some microorganism are important. As an ESR (European Society of Radiology) pointed out that “the risk of microscopic or macroscopic probe cover perforations necessitates consideration”.  Therefore, you need to use a sealed single-use sterile gel packet, for inside and outside the cover.

EDM Sterile Ultrasound Gel

EDM Sterile Ultrasound Gel – Recommended for surgical and endocavity procedures

How to use sterile gel?

The same ESR survey showed that only 14% of the audited physicians use sterile gel for their endocavity exams. More importantly: 69% of the respondent said that they simply wipe the probe at the end of the procedure. In other terms, two third of the doctors only perform a low-level disinfection between each patient. That takes us to the second scenario where a patient can contaminate your probe, and therefore your gel container. Simply put, an infected patient transmits a virus or bacteria through the cover to your probe. You just wipe your probe, and when the next patient comes, you apply gel with your refill bottle, contaminating your bottle (and there are cases of people contaminating their 5L refill like that). That is why you want to:

  1. Use sterile ultrasound gel for endocavity procedures. The single-use packet is discarded: no risks of cross-contamination
  2. Use a new refill bottle on a regular basis for your surface ultrasounds (on intact skin)
Parker sterile gel

Parker Aquasonic sterile ultrasound gel


For more information, you can find the full ESR study here.

Thank you for reading us, and feel free to contact us if you have questions about ultrasound gel!

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