Is the Use of Ethylene Oxide the Future of Sterilization?

Ethylene oxide processing is increasingly being used as a means of sterilization for a wide range of medical instruments.  

FREMONT, CA: The sterilization of medical instruments is a crucial process. Conventionally medical devices were sterilized in a number of ways, including steam, dry heat, vaporized hydrogen peroxide, and various other sterilization methods. However, according to STERIS, ethylene oxide (EO) sterilization has gained popularity in the present time. The process requires exposing instruments to ethylene oxide gas under the vacuum-sealed chamber. EO sterilization ensures the delivery of a safe and sterile product to the market.

The process of EO sterilization involves four variables, including humidity, gas concentration, time, and temperature. EO sterilization may be accomplished within the traditional ethylene oxide sterilization cycle consisting of three phases. Preconditioning is used to heat and moisten product loads to predefined conditions. The precondition phase is followed by sterilization, which is performed using process phases that are specifically designed to offer the appropriate level of EO exposure to ensure sterility for a device. Aeration is the next step, which aids in the elimination of exposed product loads and residual EO emissions. 

Top Patient Monitoring Technology CompaniesEO disrupts the DNA of microorganisms, preventing them from reproducing. The EO enters the breathable packaging and sterilizes various accessible surfaces of the product. Such an approach results in the sterilization of the products by the alkylation of proteins. Several medical devices can be sterilized only with EO without any damage to the device during sterilization. For instance, medical devices build from polymers (resin or plastic), glass, metals, or devices with multiple layers of packaging are likely to be sterilized with EO. Other materials that can be sterilized with EO include catheters, assembled complex devices, custom procedure packs, equipment with integrated-electronics, stents, and wound care dressings.

The types of devices that are sterilized with EO range from devices utilized in general healthcare practices to more specialized devices that are used to treat particular regions of the body. The above advantages of EO make it a potent sterilization compound in the field of medical science. 

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