Medical Sterilizers to Get Rid of Pathogenic Microorganisms
While it might be easy to get rid of grime and dirt with a mere soap scrub, it isn’t the same for bacterial spores. Chemical disinfectants inhibit and eliminate pathogenic microorganisms, but they fail to do an absolute job. Bacterial spores are among the only living organisms that are impervious to destructive agents including chemical disinfectants. Thus, the use of medical sterilizers comes across as the only viable solution catering to the need for infection control.
Types of Medical Sterilizers to Get Rid of Pathogenic
This short article rounds up the different types of sterilizers for medical equipment.
1. Steam Sterilizers (Autoclaves)
The autoclave is the most commonly used medical sterilizer. This method uses moist heat to initiate the destruction of microbial life. Steam does not work alone; it must be heated. Pressure is used to increase the temperature of steam thereby resulting in the coagulation of protein within the bacterial cells.
Pros: They are available in different sizes and thus are capable of handling different loads. A smaller oven-like autoclave is a common sighting at a doctor’s office while research centers and laboratories work with a larger dishwasher-like autoclave sterilizer. A few models are fitted with wheels for easy transportation.
Cons: Owing to the involvement of moisture in the curing process, it cannot be used to disinfect surfaces prone to corrosion such as metals.
2. Dry Heat:
Unlike an autoclave that applies moist heat for sterilization, dry heat medical sterilizers use heat devoid of any moisture. Hot air is circulated within the chamber. The heat is absorbed by the item to be sterilized by methods of conduction and convection. The temperature inside the chamber ranges between 300� F and 400 �F.
Pros: It is a good option for non-stainless steel medical equipments such as dental instruments as well as glassware because it achieves sterility without damaging the product. Dry heat can also be used to cure petroleum products and anhydrous oils.
Cons: Since the temperature within the oven reaches very high levels, it cannot be used to disinfect products that are heat-sensitive. For example, plastics melt immediately when subjected to high heat.
3. Gaseous and Liquid Chemical Sterilizers
In addition to the use of steam and dry heat as medical sterilizers, professionals have also discovered the ability of certain gaseous chemicals and liquid solutions to control the spread of infection. The list of gases includes names such as Ethylene oxide, Formaldehyde, propylene oxide, chlorine dioxide, hydrogen peroxide and ozone. Ethylene oxide is the most widely used in the sterilization of medical equipment. One of the widely used liquid disinfectants at health care facilities is Glutaraldehyde.
Pros: Gaseous and liquid chemicals are regarded as the best sterilizer option for those items that are both heat and moisture sensitive.
Cons: These chemicals reduce processing time. However, they need to be handled with care because some of them are highly flammable and can be toxic to humans.
4. Ionizing Radiation:
This list of medical sterilizers would be incomplete without a mention of the use of radiation. The changes in the atomic structure of the atoms results in the generation of thermal and chemical energy within the chamber. This prevents cell division and causes the death of microorganisms.
Pros: Radiation is the most effective and the most cost-efficient method of sterilization.
Cons: Its use is however limited to commercial applications only.
Thus, there are multiple reliable medical sterilizers to achieve sterility of medical equipment. The medical sterilizers you should choose depend upon the item to be sterilized.