For some facilities, TEE probes are in constant use, going from patient to reprocessing and back to another patient. In other cases, however, TEE procedures are less commonly performed, meaning a TEE probe can go for a few days between uses. When that happens, a common concern arises: how long can a disinfected TEE probe be stored before needing to be reprocessed? To determine the best answer, there are a few things to consider.
In the first place, know that there is no set standard number of days for this. Across the various governmental and accrediting agencies, a specific expiration date of high level disinfection is nearly impossible to come by. Most accreditation agencies don't even seem to address hang time for TEE probes at all. As a result, tracking down a specific number leads to a dead end.
Next, the method of storage plays a vital role in how long a probe can be stored before needing high-level disinfection again. If a probe is stored exposed to the open air or comes into contact with any surfaces, it is unlikely to have a long shelf life. The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) suggests that the best method for ultrasound probe storage is one that keeps the probe protected from contamination and damage. Both the CDC and The Joint Commission say that probes should be stored hanging vertically in a clean, dust-free environment. The simplest solution to meet all these guidelines is using a storage cabinet, like the CleanShield® TEE Probe Storage Cabinet.
Finally, taking proper storage and other guidelines into account, CS Medical commissioned a study to determine how long TEE probes can hang in a CleanShield before needing to be reprocessed. The study compared probes stored in the open air with probes stored in a HEPA-filtered TEE probe storage cabinet. The study showed that after seven (7) days inside the CleanShield, TEE probes, "remained measurably free of contamination."
In light of this study, it is safe to say that if a fully reprocessed TEE probe is secured within a CleanShield TEE Probe Storage Cabinet, it will remain in a condition that allows for use up to seven (7) days after high-level disinfection before requiring reprocessing.