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06 December 2018 - Category: Decontamination Cycle

The Final Stage in the Decontamination Process: Sterilisation

By Peter Branton

Unlike other methods of decontamination such as disinfecting, sterilisation is a process that completely removes all microorganisms, fungi, viruses and bacterial spores. As discussed in previous blogs, disinfection cannot ensure complete removal of bacterial spores, however sterilisation does. Sterilisation fills the last part of the decontamination process and eliminates any risk to pathogenic transmission.

Similar to cleaning and disinfection, there are various ways to sterilise medical instruments in an optimum process. Some instruments are heat sensitive and will therefore require alternative sterilisation methods, whilst others are intricate with multiple crevices and will require high pressure steam sterilisation for optimum results.

One common method to sterilise medical equipment especially in CSSD facilities is sterilization with heat. Commonly referred to as steam sterilisation, this method is extremely effective in destroying all microorganisms, fungi, viruses and bacterial spores. Steam sterilisation essentially destroys microorganisms by hydrolysis and coagulation of cell proteins through excessive high pressure heat in the presence of water (steam).

There are four factors that steam sterilisation operates on, these being: Exposure time, Pressure, Temperature & Drying Time. Depending on items being porous vs non porous, sterilization exposure time is variable.

There are various sterilisation cycles that can be utilised in steam sterilisers such as gravity, prevacuum and steam flush pressure pulses. Belimed’s range of steam sterilisers operate with a prevacuum cycle. This takes packaged items through multiple pressured pulses of steam and removes air from the chamber through a mechanical vacuum system. This method of sterilisation cycles is proven to be more efficient than others in regards to air removal. The demands met for CSSD have never been as stringent as they are now. Steam sterilisation ensures all equipment and instruments utilised pose no risk of contamination and smooth management of instruments reprocessing workflow.

To find out more regarding Belimed's Steam Steriliser range from a Gallay product specialist, click here.