From Reusable Endoscope to Single-Use Endoscope: A Significant Shift During COVID-19 Pandemic

The healthcare facilities such as hospitals and testing labs are generally highly infectious places as there are several patients with different ailments in the vicinity. Therefore, the hygiene and safety on the hospital campus, specifically with the tools used for treatment purposes, are taken care of with utmost caution.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has especially woken up to the importance of hygiene and the threat of infectious disease. With the extremely high rate of infections, hospitals were the most dangerous place with the highest risk of getting infected with the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, apart from the rigorous sanitization, the use of single-use medical devices raised significantly.

The single-use medical devices such as surgical masks, syringes, and suction catheters have been proved to reduce the risk of infection and enhance patient safety. The widening trend of single-use devices has enabled the use of disposable flexible endoscopes in various surgical and non-surgical procedures.

The advantage of single-use endoscopes is the reduction of post-procedure infection risk caused by cross-contamination. Although the reception of the healthcare community to single-use endoscope devices is mixed, interest in them is growing because the need for enhanced patient safety continues to grow.

Single use endoscope device

A total of 75 million endoscopies are conducted each year. A transition from reusable devices to disposable devices require careful consideration and planning. For the smooth transitioning, it is essential for the facilities to work with clinicians and explore possible clinical, financial, and operational impacts that transitioning to these new devices will have on all the stakeholders in the healthcare community, including patients.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the secondary procedures, including endoscopy services, were closed in 2020. However, the pandemic has created a positive impact on the net revenue in single-use endoscopes primarily due to the increase in infectious diseases and increasing awareness among patients regarding concern about hygiene has led to an increase in demand for single-use endoscopes.

According to the BIS Research, the global single-use/disposable endoscopy market is witnessing a significant increase in the size of the market due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The overall market was estimated to be $471.7 million in FY2019, and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40.17% during the forecast period, 2021-2030.

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Key Reasons to Switch to the Single-Use Endoscopes

1. One of the major reasons why clinicians are inclined to single-use endoscopy systems is because of assured safety. The reusable endoscope devices naturally increase the risk of bacterial infections and increase the hassle of rigorous sterilization. There are complicated designs that can be difficult to clean, and the invisible bacteria may be left uncleaned. With the single-use endoscopes, this issue is resolved automatically as it is meant to be used once. As the COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to rise and patients return to elective procedures, people are more cautious and concerned about the risk of infections. Some even ask for single-use endoscopes.

endoscope procedure

2. The single-use endoscopes are time efficient. With the elimination of works like reprocessing, repairing, and cleaning the reusable devices, a lot of time is saved for the clinicians to dedicate to patient care. It also removes the frantic last-minute search for available devices.

3. Healthcare organizations recognize the financial benefits of single-use endoscopes. The use of these devices eliminates the repair costs associated with reusable equipment. The repair cost of the reusable devices can go up to six figures, while the disposable devices mostly eliminate the need for repairing unless there is some manufacturing defect in the device.

4. Single-use endoscopes offer state-of-the-art technology, as well as superior clinical integration. The technology in reusable endoscopy equipment is outdated compared to the new disposable designs and technology. In the new devices, the screen and the Electronic medical records (EMR) system are integrated, so the images can also be uploaded. This is becoming an increasingly important regulatory compliance with diagnosis and billing. This enables an enhanced procedure experience for clinicians as well as the patients.


Healthcare experts are continuously analyzing the impact of industrial and regulatory decisions on the use of single use/disposable endoscopes. Various factors such as the rising incidences of hospital-acquired infections, high cost associated with reusable endoscopes, increasing infectious diseases and growing regulatory approvals are leading to the growing application in the healthcare industry.

However, the wide use of single-use devices also poses certain challenges, such as medical waste management and increasing carbon footprint of the healthcare industry globally. For instance, the U.S. accounts for 27% of the worldwide healthcare footprint and is the world’s highest emitter of healthcare greenhouse gases. Globally, healthcare is responsible for 4.4% of worldwide net emissions.

Furthermore, the carbon footprint generated from devices used in healthcare is expected to increase dramatically. The widespread adoption of single-use instruments will generate a massive amount of waste annually from endoscopic procedures, and it is expected to boom in the near future.

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