Sterilization & Methods

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Sterilization & Methods:

Various methods are available for sterilizing surgical instruments to protect patients from toxic anterior segment syndrome and other infections. Whatever type of sterilizer that you have, must in fact be in contact with all of the surfaces of the items you are sterilizing. The preferred methods of sterilization are high pressure/temperature (in autoclaves), dry heat for items that can withstand high temperature and ethylene oxide gas for items that cannot withstand high temperature. However, cold chemical sterilants may be used effectively for many items.

An autoclave utilizes saturating steam at high heat and pressure to attain sterilization. In order to be effective, steam must penetrate the pack completely. Only those items which can withstand high heat and pressure should be autoclaved. Muslin and paper (crepe) drape material allow the steam to penetrate into the pack. Materials such as aluminum foil and wax paper should not be used due to the steam’s inability to penetrate these materials
Gas Sterilization:

Gas sterilization (ethylene oxide) can be used for those items which are temperature sensitive. Ethylene oxide can penetrate paper or a plastic film packaging of polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyvinyl chloride.


Dry Bead Sterilization:

Dry bead sterilization is normally used to flash sterilize surgical instruments in between multiple surgeries. All biological debris must be removed before placing the instruments into the sterilizer.
Instruments must be allowed to reach the appropriate temperature level for the minimal amount of time required before sterilization is attained. Once the instruments are removed from the sterilizer, the tips must be allowed to cool before using. It should also be noted that only the tips of the instruments are sterilized and the handles are considered to be contaminated. The instruments must be utilized in a fashion that the tips of the instruments remain sterile.

Cold Sterilization: 

When using a solution for sterilizing instruments careful attention must made that the solution kills specific bacteria and virus, many solutions have no effect on bacteria or virus when in the presence of blood; also many solution are very corrosive on the instruments, most solutions recommend a soak time of 10 hrs. Because of the long soak time the chemical action can damage the instrument. Reduce when possible soak time; where indicated use a corrosion inhibitor.

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