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Many Different Techniques of Medical Instrument Sterilization

By: Daniel Prince

Instrument sterilization is a crucial matter for every laboratory, clinic and hospital. Unless the equipment used is sterilized every so often, health facilities will not be allowed to stay in operation. Contrary to popular belief, there are many different methods of sterilizing medical equipment. Below is a basic look at the many different techniques used to sterilize medical equipment by many laboratories such as Gibraltar Labs.


Sterilization via Autoclave

An autoclave is a machine of varying size. It uses high heat and pressure and steam to sterilize medical equipment. The time needed for sterilization depends on the temperature achieved by the autoclave and the configuration of the materials to be sterilized. The critical factor is that the material must have an unobstructed path to the steam.


Sterilization via Steam

This type of sterilization is rather common in health facilities and is used by the manufacturers of orthopedic instruments and trays to validate their instructions for use. Equipment is put into the main chamber and steam is directed towards the medical equipment. The high heat and steam destroy many organisms and ensure that the instrument is left clean and sterilized.


Sterilization via Flash

This technique is similar to using steam for sterilization, but has one principle difference. Flash sterilizing an object is significantly faster than sterilizing via steam or many other methods.


Sterilization via Dry Heat

Sterilizing medical equipment via dry heat is an effective method of sterilizing medical equipment. Dry heat is directed towards the medical equipment and any microorganisms are destroyed. This is because the high heat coagulates blood proteins and ensures that microorganisms are destroyed.


Sterilization via Moist Heat

This was one of the earliest techniques of sterilization. Hot air (with water vapor) is directed towards medical instruments, denaturing many microorganisms in the process. This ensures that any bacteria or microbe growing on the instrument is destroyed.


Sterilization via Radiation

Radiation, especially gamma radiation, is used to sterilize medical equipment. Gamma radiation ensures that many different types of microbes are destroyed. Interestingly, radiation is always used to sterilize scalpels and many other metallic medical instruments.

As evident, there are many methods of sterilizing medical equipment. Although not every technique is employed by any hospital, many of the above techniques are still used to sterilize medical equipment.  In conclusion, patients can rest assured that the equipment used to maintain their health is clean, up to the standard and perfect for use in or on their body.

Contributed By: This article was contributed by Gibraltar Labs to educate patients about the various sterilization techniques used in the medical and health industry today.