Microbiology for radiologists: how to minimize infection transmission in the radiology department


The implementation of standardized infection control and prevention practices is increasingly relevant as modern radiology practice evolves into its more clinical role. Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and World Health Organization guidelines for the proper use of personal protective equipment, decontamination of reusable medical equipment, and appropriate management of bloodborne pathogen exposures will be reviewed. Standard precautions apply to all patients at all times and are the mainstay of infection control. Proper hand hygiene includes washing hands with soap and water when exposed to certain infectious particles, such as Clostridium difficile spores, which are not inactivated by alcohol-based hand rubs. The appropriate use of personal protective equipment in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes wearing a surgical mask during lumbar puncture. Because radiologists may perform lumbar punctures for patients with prion disease, it is important to appreciate that incineration is the most effective method of inactivating prion proteins. However, there is currently no consensus recommendation on the decontamination of prion-contaminated reusable items associated with lumbar puncture, and institutional policies should be consulted for directed management. In the event of a needlestick injury, radiology staff must be able to quickly provide appropriate initial management and seek medical attention, including laboratory testing for bloodborne pathogens. Online supplemental material is available for this article. (©)RSNA, 2015.

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