Got steam? We do! We have steam sterilization solutions that will go the extra mile for you and your healthcare facility. French-born physicist Denis Papin originally developed an autoclave known as the steam digester in 1679, which essentially was a pressure cooker. This pressure cooker AKA autoclave is another term for steam sterilizer! Steam sterilization has been found to pertain many benefits for healthcare facilities including low cost, safety, and efficacy.
Advantages of Steam Sterilization
When processing heat and moisture stable materials, steam sterilizers have a huge advantage over other forms of sterilization in speed and productivity. Of course staff should always follow the device manufacturers recommended sterilization method, steam sterilization is considered to be a very reliable and consistent method throughout a medical facility. Medical devices that can be processed in a steam sterilizer include surgical instruments, implantable medical devices and surgical linens.
Steam Sterilization Process & Temperature Guide
Steam sterilization is the process of exposing items with saturated steam under pressure while the chamber reaches and stays at a certain temperature for the recommended amount of time. Some commonly recommended temperatures for steam sterilization are 250° F (121° C), 270° F (132° C), and 275° F (135° C). Cycle time and temperature recommendations are determined and tested by the manufacturer and may vary depending on the type of load being processed. It is important to refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines in the sterilizer operator manual before processing a load.
Steam has the ability to kill microorganisms with saturated steam when heated to the recommended temperature and cycled through the three phases of the sterilization cycle.
- Conditioning: Air is removed from the chamber by Gravity displacement or Dynamic Air Removal methods and the load is heated to the recommended sterilization temperature.
- Exposure: When the chamber and load have reached the necessary temperature for sterilization, the items in the load are exposed to steam at a set temperature for a set time. Exposure times and temperatures should be set to follow the device manufacturer’s recommendations and in accordance with existing standards and guidelines.
- Exhaust: When steam is removed from the chamber and the pressure inside the chamber is released, also known as the cool-down or drying phase. During this phase, a vacuum is drawn to remove the steam and to help dry the load.
Proper steam system construction and maintenance plays an important role in the success of the steam sterilization process as well as other factors including utility supply, good water quality, instrument preparation, loading technique and post sterilization handling.
Contact ERD when considering the purchase of a steam sterilization solution that will keep up with the demands of your busy Sterile Processing Department!