WFUMB – Position Paper

How to perform a safe ultrasound examination and clean equipment in the context of COVID-19

On behalf of the WFUMB Safety Committee (Jacques S. Abramowicz, Iwaki Akiyama, David Evans, F. Brian Fowlkes, Karel Marsal, Yusef Sayeed, Gail ter Haar)
Abramowicz JS* and Basseal J* (*co-authors)

Scope and background

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally declared the SARS-CoV-2 also known as COVID-19 outbreak, a pandemic. This has impacted the way that healthcare facilities operate globally to ensure patient and practitioner safety and to minimize all risks associated with infection transmission.

Ultrasound is a safe and essential tool for the diagnosis of a variety of medical conditions and for patient care. Bedside lung ultrasound has been invaluable in the critically ill and, specifically, for diagnosis of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients. Ultrasound is increasingly used within the point of care setting, as chest CT is not often available in the emergency departments. However, the ultrasound unit can be a potential vector in the transmission of an infection and previous surveys have indicated a gap in knowledge of basic infection prevention measures in ultrasound. Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and given the proximity necessary to perform an ultrasound examination, it is essential to take all safety precautions when undertaking routine clinical activity.

There have been several national and international guidelines for general precautions in infection prevention in ultrasound and, more recently, specific guidance for COVID-19. There are also national and international guidelines for the performance of routine or targeted ultrasound investigations. The decision as to what constitutes an elective or an emergency examination is to be made locally and is not the goal of this document, rather it is intended to serve as guidance on infection control when performing ultrasound examinations in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

This statement has been written on behalf of the WFUMB Safety Committee as official guidance with collaboration of experts from various affiliated Federations. Whilst this statement ensures that a consistent approach to infection prevention and safe ultrasound practices are implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be some operational and organizational differences at the local level.

Key Words: COVID-19, Disinfection, Equipment cleaning, Guidelines, Infection prevention, Transducer,Ultrasound, WFUMB

© WFUMB – World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology