The Indigo-Clean light fixture is seen as a complementary technology to established cleaning and disinfection protocols.

The market for devices designed to kill bacteria in health care settings continues to expand, with the latest application being offered in an overhead light fixture that is safe around patients and hospital staff.

Kenosha, Wis.-based Kenall Manufacturing recently gave Health Facilities Management a sneak peek at its Indigo-Clean system. The light fixture, which operates continuously and requires no operator, is designed to inactivate a wide range of microorganisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile, and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE).

Instead of using ultraviolet light (UV), Indigo-Clean uses visible, indigo-colored light at approximately 405 nanometers (nm). This wavelength of light is absorbed by molecules within the bacteria, producing a chemical reaction that kills the bacteria from inside as if bleach had been released within the bacterial cells.

The light fixture is manufactured through an exclusive agreement with the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, which developed, verified through research and patented the technology. Strathclyde’s technology has been in use since 2008 at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, a large teaching hospital operated by National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Strathclyde. More than 20 peer-reviewed academic studies have been published since 2008 on the indigo light technology, Kenall notes.

“As part of Strathclyde’s clinical engagement in the U.K. over the last seven years, this technology has proven effective in killing bacteria in hospital settings,” says Cliff Yahnke, Kenall’s director of clinical affairs. He stresses that the Indigo-Clean light fixture is a complementary technology to established cleaning and disinfection protocols. Yahnke also notes that Indigo-Clean provides the ability to continuously clean the air as well as soft and hard surfaces.

Froedtert Hospital, a 655-bed teaching hospital in Milwaukee, earlier this year began evaluating the Indigo-Clean fixture in its gastroenterology endoscopy clinic’s waiting room. Results from more than 1,000 samples collected during a month-long period showed a 40 percent continuous bacterial reduction while the fixture was configured in a blended solution combining 405 nm light and standard LEDs to create the look of white overhead lighting while providing a continuous bacteria-killing benefit.

“The initial results suggest even higher levels of bacteria reduction could be obtained with a configuration optimized for the area, taking into account its size and patient traffic,” said Nathan Ledeboer, associate professor of pathology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, in a news release from Kenall. “We are beginning a second evaluation to understand the potential impact of an optimized configuration upon the bacteria levels in medically relevant spaces within our institution.”

Meanwhile, evaluations of the light fixture in two identical patient rooms are getting underway at Kenosha Medical Center, part of the United Hospital System (UHS). One room will be equipped with an indigo-only, 405 nm fixture in the center of the room and the other room will be equipped with two blended light fixtures across the room.

“We are very interested in documenting how Indigo-Clean can improve the hospital environment and benefit patient health outcomes,” says Tom Duncan, vice president and COO of UHS.

Kenall plans to expand testing of the Indigo-Clean through its Clinical Partners Program, Yahnke says, which will provide clinical support from the manufacturer directly to hospitals.