The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up unimaginable challenges for healthcare workers. Even simple outpatient procedures such as endoscopies can expose staff to the risk of infection.
However, a team of researchers has developed a simple, disposable, and inexpensive device to provide an additional barrier of protection for healthcare workers performing esophagogastroduodenoscopies (EGD).
An EGD is an endoscopic procedure by which a doctor examines a patient’s esophagus, stomach, and upper intestines. The procedure causes patients to cough or retch, exposing workers to body fluids or aerosol droplets.
Given that COVID-19 is easily spread via air-borne transmission, researchers from thegastroenterology departments at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine and the Japan Community Health Care Organization’s Sendai Hospital set out to create a device capable of catching droplets without causing further discomfort to the patient.
The new device comprises a mouthpiece equipped with a fixing belt and a nonwoven fabric to cover the patient’s face, thereby capturing aerosol droplets.
The square, nonwoven fabric is attached to the tips of the mouthpiece using symmetric cuts made by scissors. An x-shaped incision at the center of the fabric acts as a sleeve for the endoscope—providing minimal interference.
Special care was taken in choosing the fabric. Having a tight enclosure would exposure patients to respiratory stress and risk choking if vomiting. The nonwoven fabric maintains high elasticity and air permeability, providing minimal discomfort for the patient.
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