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Steam Sterilization – Important For Medical Services

 Steam sterilization is an important process which needs to be done for the wellbeing of patients who are admitted at various hospitals and other clinical institutes. Unclean and unhygienic instruments may result in fatal diseases which is why sterilization has become the need of the hour. Once a medical instrument has been properly cleaned and processed through steam sterilization, it is as good as new. Medical sterilization needs to be done for all the instruments that are used in medical checkups and other surgical procedures.

There are many different methods that have been used by different doctors for medical sterilization depending on the nature of instruments and the efficacy of the procedure. The method for sterilization should be clean and perfect and should be performed under the supervision of a sterilization expert. Steam sterilization is now a trusted sterilization method that is used on medical instruments to make them danger free and useable. The reason for going through the sterilization process is that every instrument needs to be cleaned once it has been used on a patient. Once a medical instrument has been used, it needs to be cleaned to make sure that it is not contaminated before using on another patient. When the sterilization process takes place and the instruments are cleaned they can be used again as new.

The medical sterilization process has to be done right after the instrument has been used. Some surgical instruments such as syringes cannot be used again, therefore these should be disposed of immediately. Medical instruments are quite expensive and in order to use them again, you have to sterilize them so that they do not cause any potential harm. For the cleaning of the medical instruments, you have to make them undergo the process of steam sterilization. This procedure cleans the medical instruments more effectively.

Steam sterilization is a process that every hospital and clinical institute should adopt. The medical instruments need to be put under the steam sterilization process to clean them properly because this procedure helps in getting rid of all microbial life on surgical instruments. There are other methods that need to be given importance but the steam process has a high success rate. Medical sterilization involves every process that takes away the germs from the medical instruments and uses them in a productive way. By using the sterilization process, we can easily use the most expensive instruments repeatedly. You can rest assured that they are danger free and cannot cause harm to anyone as they have been sterilized.

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Medical Device Sterilization through Steam Sterilization

Proper and effective medical device sterilization is important for every medical facility. Sterilization means the elimination and destruction of all types of microbial organisms. The sterilization method used may vary from one type of medical equipment to another.  It depends on the different disinfecting and handling requirements of the equipment in question.

It is often the case that sterilization in medical facilities is done using steam under pressure. At times, gaseous chemicals or liquids are also used instead of steam.  This method of sterilization is known as steam sterilization.  This involves heating the instruments inside an autoclave, which contains steam under pressure.

Usually a pressure of 15 psi is maintained. This helps reach and maintain a minimum temperature of 121°C. This use of pressurized steam at very high temperatures helps eradicate every microbial cell present in the chamber. Even spores that are believed to be insensitive to heat are often destroyed.

Effective steam sterilization is not that easy to perform when performing medical device sterilization. You need to make sure proper measures are taken during the sterilization method. Several critical factors are involved that deduce the effectiveness of the procedure. They include:

  • Maintaining the right temperature (a high temperature)
  • Proper saturation of heat
  • Complete absence of heat in the beginning

You can find several types of autoclaves in the market nowadays that can easily hold every type of medical equipment present. A few of them make use of exhaust valves which get activated through steam. They are designed in such a manner that they remain open until they react to steam, and then close.

Besides this, you can also find pre-vacuum sterilizers. They incorporate a pre-cycle vacuum which helps them bring about the removal process of air before the steam is introduced to the system. They are designed to address the problem that is created when air is trapped in the system during the process of steam sterilization.

The equipment that is needed to be sterilized is placed physically in an instrument tray, which is also known as a sterilization tray. They possess air removal and entrance characteristics, but not all of them are equipped for this purpose.

The quantity of equipments and devices that a sterilization/instrument tray can hold depends on its design. It is important that all medical equipment and devices that are directly involved in surgical procedures are washed and placed in the sterilization/instrument tray after they are steam sterilized.



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Steam Sterilization

Steam sterilization is a process of thermal sterilization employing highly pressurized saturated steam in a chamber [autoclave]. Steam sterilization is a widely employed sterilization process. The basic principle of operation is that the air in the sterilizing chamber is displaced by the saturated steam, achieved by employing vents or traps in gravity-displacement cycles or by active removal in dynamic-air-removal cycles. In order to displace air more effectively from the chamber and from within articles, the sterilization cycle may include air and steam evacuation stages. The design or choice of a cycle for given products or components depends on a number of factors, including the heat lability of the material, knowledge of heat penetration into the articles, and other factors described under the validation program (see above). Apart from that description of steam sterilization cycle parameters, using a temperature of 121C, the F0 concept may be appropriate. The F0 , at a particular temperature other than 121C, is the time (in minutes) required to provide the lethality equivalent to that provided at 121C for a stated time. Medical instruments and their sterilization trays need to be validated both with respect to cleaning effectiveness and sterilization. Most commonly companies submit validation data performed in accordance with ST79. The key component of a persuasive validation is a thorough assessment of worst case conditions. Gibraltar Laboratories recommends that worse case be defined not only with respect to the article subject to the validation but also with respect to the steam sterilizer under maximal and minimal load configurations. This is necessary for each sterilization cycle type, namely gravity-displacement and dynamic-air-removal [pre-vacuum]. Accordingly one selects the instrument in the case that is judged to be the most difficult to sterilize. This instrument is then challenged with artificial soil and highly resistant biological spores. The tray is wrapped in accordance with ST79 and placed in the steam sterilizer at its cold spot. The cold spot is determined by thermal mapping with NIST traceable thermocouples. Three half-cycles are performed at 134C. In order to pass the validation all of the biological spores must be killed and the instrument or its tray must be completely dry.

A related and additional validation involves cleaning instruments that have been challenged. For example one can challenge with oils, protein, blood, endotoxin, particulates and cleaning agent. Cleaning is performed using one or both of a defined automated cleaning process or defined manual cleaning process. Successful cleaning is demonstrated by the removal of the challenge and absence of particulates and cleaning agent.