Since the late 19th century, the healthcare industry has relied on autoclave sterilization when sanitizing medical instruments. Similar to a pressure cooker, the autoclave uses a combination of heat, humidity and pressure to disinfect the devices. Moisture from the high-temperature steam creates irreversible coagulation that kills harmful microorganisms, sanitizing the objects and preparing them for reuse.
An autoclave’s ability to efficiently circulate pressurized heat ensures the highest standard of sterilization for medical instruments. Using steam is also faster than most other sterilizing methods, and the process is entirely safe when following the proper procedures.
Autoclave Sterilization Temperature and Time
To ensure thorough decontamination, the autoclave sterilizing process must occur at a high temperature (121 degrees Celsius or approximately 250 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15-30 minutes, or slightly longer when wrapping instruments in a protective cloth. Treatment at this temperature and duration will effectively deactivate viruses, bacteria and fungi that are resistant to other sterilization methods.
The Potential Impacts When Autoclaving Surgical Instruments
Medical devices today are more sophisticated than when the first autoclave went into use. Many products include sensitive electronics that may not tolerate high humidity and extreme pressure. For example, semiconductors are standard features in some surgical instruments and devices. While these chips can typically handle temperatures up to around 257 degrees Fahrenheit, the embedded batteries that power them can experience a shorter life span due to prolonged exposure to extreme heat.
How Does Autoclaving Affect Cases and Trays?
Specially designed cases and trays protect surgical devices from excessive heat and moisture during the autoclaving process. They also safeguard the equipment and keep it sterile during shipping, handling and storing.
Choosing a high-quality case or tray is vital for maximizing its long-term protective capabilities. The container must be able to withstand the intense autoclave pressure over many use cycles. The prolonged exposure to moisture also necessitates a material that can resist corrosion.
Jewel Precision Can Meet Your Autoclave Sterilization Needs
As one of the original designers and manufacturers of autoclave sterilization cases, Jewel Precision can provide a durable, dependable protective solution for your medical devices. Our custom, modular and rigid reusable systems deliver exceptional long-term value and give you peace of mind.