Have you ever wondered how surgical instruments are kept so clean? Considering the work they do it seems pretty amazing that they can even be re-used! All the bodily fluids as well as the infectious bacteria they come in contact with makes it seem sort of risky. But, of course, we also can’t be throwing away tools so specialized and uniquely crafted as many of the surgical instruments used today. Instead, there are special regulations about sterilization and cleaning of surgical instruments to protect all involved.
The sterilization process for surgical instruments is quite different than the cleaning process. But, both are equally important. If an instrument isn’t cleaned properly it can still leave contaminants behind even after sterilization. Seems amazing I know, but it’s true. When you are dealing with surgery, any contamination can create the possibility of an infection. And this is the last thing any doctor/surgeon wants. So what is the cleaning process, and how do they ensure that everything is off of the instruments?
There are several cleaning methods used for surgical/medical instruments, to ensure their safety for use with the public. It simply depends on the facility and the tool which process is used. Some tools just have to be hand washed. Other times a washer/disinfector machine may be used to get instruments clean and disinfected in one cycle. And, we can’t forget ultrasonic cleaning.
Ultrasonic cleaning is helpful especially when there are places on the piece that open/close or if there are tiny grooves or other situations like these in which there is the potential for small pieces of material to become lodged somewhere. Generally when using an ultrasonic cleaning machine, you would put the instruments or instrument kits into a special type of wire basket for cleaning surgical tools. The wire baskets work to both protect the parts and the cleaning machine.
ThreeMTool.com is a company that makes many different types of highly customized wire baskets that are used for putting many different sizes of surgical tools through an ultrasonic cleaning machine. There are large customized racks for cleaning medical instruments. These hold some of the larger surgical tools that need to be cleaned in a machine that uses a robot fed process. Of course the small parts also have their own custom wire baskets too! ThreeMTool.com makes enclosed baskets for cleaning small medical parts. This way the smaller parts don’t get damaged or lost.
Once everything is clean, it will then go through the sterilization process. Again, the sterilization process will be different for different tools, but usually, the sterilization process that hospitals use for their medical instruments, involves steam of some kind. Steam sterilization is completed under a pressure of 15 psi and a temperature of at least 121 degrees Celsius (249.8 Fahrenheit). This kills pretty much everything!
It is a nice thing to know that those in the medical world take so much time and energy to keep the instruments so clean. It helps us all stay just a tad bit healthier!
Violette Lebrac says
You mentioned that if surgical supplies aren’t cleaned properly, they can leave behind germs even if they’ve been sterilized. I’d imagine that germs on instruments could result in patient illness or even death. If I were having surgery, I’d want to know that the surgical instruments were properly cleaned and sanitized.