Are multi-use bougies a cause for concern?

Are multi-use bougies a cause for concern? - Blog

A bougie is a flexible cylinder, typically made of rubber, used in bariatric surgery. In sleeve gastrectomy procedures, it functions as a sizing device for the stomach. Calibration occurs after the bougie is inserted into the esophagus and travels down until the tip reaches the pylorus. Hospitals utilize both multi and single-use bougies. While manufacturers’ recommendations for cleaning and maintenance require high-level disinfection of bougies, many hospitals do not adhere to these standards. Facilities are simply cleaning the bougie with soap and water in between uses.

What are your standards for bougie checks?

Studies revealed that most hospitals do not have checks in place. They have no record of how many times bougies have been used and only replace them when the damage becomes visible[1].

Two significant issues that arise from multi-use bougies are:

1. The shape and structure of the bougie deteriorate with each sterilization. Inspection shows that after just one wash, the surface was scratched. In addition, bougies do not retain their initial curvature with constant cleaning[2].

2. If hospitals are neglecting proper bougie sterilization techniques, cross-contamination becomes prevalent[1].

A study done by Dr. J. M. Cupitt revealed that half of the bougies used in the hospital were contaminated. Some of which were also growing organisms from the tips. Among those included fungus, staphylococcus species, and coliform. With the rapid and aggressive spread of COVID-19, contaminated bougies must not be tolerated. 

Cross-contamination has become so problematic that a hospital in La Jolla, CA, was required to notify 385 bariatric surgery patients that they had not followed the proper sterilization process. Patients were warned of possible exposure to HIV and hepatitis and were encouraged to pursue testing.

Boehringer Laboratories, LLC provides the solution with VISIGI®, the world’s number 1 selling calibration system. As a single-use device, VISIGI® eliminates any concern about cross-contamination. 

Give your patients peace of mind during the pandemic. Use VISIGI®.

[1] Cupitt, J. M. (2000). Microbial contamination of gum elastic bougies. Anaesthesia.

[2] Dawes, T. J. W., & Ford, P. N. R. (2011). The effect of sterilization on the plasticity of multi-use Eschmann gum elastic bougies: A bench and manikin study. Anaesthesia.


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Katherine Martin
Katherine Martin
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