COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented pandemic and medical emergency that has changed routine care pathways. This article discusses the extent of aerosolisation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as a result of oesophagogastroduodenoscopy and colonoscopy.
PubMed and Google Scholar were searched for relevant publications, using the terms COVID-19 aerosolisation, COVID-19 infection, COVID-19 transmission, COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 and endoscopy, Endoscopy for COVID-19 patients.
A total of 3745 articles were identified, 26 of which were selected to answer the question of the extent of SARS-CoV-2 aerosolisation during upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy. All studies suggested high infectivity from contact and droplet spread. No clinical study has yet reported the viral load in the aerosol and therefore the infective dose has not been accurately determined. However, aerosol-generating procedures are potentially risky and full personal protective equipment should be used.
As it is a highly infectious disease, clinicians treating patients with COVID-19 require effective personal protective equipment. The main routes of infection are direct contact and droplets in the air and on surfaces. Aerosolisation carries a substantial risk of infection, so any aerosol-producing procedure, such as endoscopy, should be performed wearing personal protective equipment and with extra caution to protect the endoscopist, staff and patients from cross-infection via the respiratory system.