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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The assessment of the risk of cross-infection with a multi-use nasal atomizer.

Atomizers working on the Venturi principle are used by otolaryngology departments in the UK to spray cocaine and other local anaesthetic and vasoconstricting solutions into the nasal cavities. These devices are rarely cleaned, nor is the cocaine in the reservoir changed between patients. This study aimed to assess the risk of cross-infection with such an atomizer of the Down's design. Nutrient broth from a sterile atomizer was sprayed into the nasal cavities of 12 healthy volunteers on three occasions, the tip of the nozzle was withdrawn between sprays into the right nostril, but not between sprays into the left. On each occasion the tip of the nozzle, a nutrient broth rinse of the inner tube of the nozzle and the residue of broth in the reservoir of the atomizer were cultured and the colonies compared with those from a nasal swab collected previously. The results show transmisson of bacteria from the nasal vestibule on to the tip, into the nozzle and into the reservoir of the atomizer. Examination of the minimum inhibitory concentration values of 10% cocaine with and without Nipasept preservative indicated poor antibacterial properties. We conclude that the use of an atomizer on more than one patient poses a risk of cross-infection, and recommend their replacement with a single-use disposable nasal atomizer.[1]


  1. The assessment of the risk of cross-infection with a multi-use nasal atomizer. Spraggs, P.D., Hanekom, W.H., Mochloulis, G., Joseph, T., Kelsey, M.C. J. Hosp. Infect. (1994) [Pubmed]
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