Vigilance and meticulousness are absolutely vital to ensuring sterility of products used in surgical processes. There can be no margin for error or laxity in carrying out the sterilization process and subsequent packaging of instruments, tools and devices for transport and later use within the hospital premises or outside. In such cases the instrument packaging plays a vital role.
There are times when it is preferable to use packaging that can also be sterilized as an integrated instrument packaging and sterilization solution. It cuts short on time needed to pack and ensure sterility in one step. Most flexible packaging materials usually made of polymers are heat sensitive and may start to soften at 60 degrees C and melt at temperatures of 100 deg C and above as are usually encountered during the autoclaving or other dry heat sterilization processes. One can go about it in two ways. One way is to sterilize instruments and tools in an autoclave and then pack in sterile, certified medical packaging that is leakproof. The second, better way is to use instrument packaging and sterilization solutions.
Sterilization reels and pouches are commonly used these days in sterilization and in preservation of tools and instruments during storage or transport. These reels and pouches for sterilization are made of selected polymers with a density of 80 o 110 mm in various types such as plain, self adhesive type with an indicator and a plain self adhesive type. These can be used in hot air and high pressure steam sterilization processes. The material selected can withstand 134 degrees C for 15 minutes during steam autoclaving or 180 degrees in a dry hot air oven process. Material chosen is such that it still retains material integrity and does not become brittle or crack after being subjected to high temperatures. It must also have high tear strength and resistance to puncturing. Further sophistication is in the way valves are provided with an adhesive layer and with a protective anti-adhesive cover or use of clips and an indicator that changes color on process. Such reel and pouch protective packaging are breathable but they are impervious to microorginasms and viruses. Instruments packed in these can be stored safely for as long as two years.
At one stroke the use of such instrument packaging and sterilization reels and pouches make life simpler for healthcare professionals. Manufacturers of instruments can use them as packaging, with or without printing and can assure themselves as well as their users that the contents are absolutely sterile. CSSDs in hospitals can use these packaging as a short cut to saving time, effort and money in sterilizing and packing instruments and tools. Such devices are sterilized and can be straightaway transported to points of use or stored until required.
It only remains for manufacturers of operation theatre instruments and fro CSSDs in hopitals to source the highest quality sterilization reels and pouches from the right manufacturer. Features such as clips and valves further enhance usability.