Sterilization, in itself, is one of the most important steps to be undertaken before the product can be utilized for the surgical processes. Although the industry is about two centuries old, it had never been a stagnant one and a lot recent advances in sterilization process is made in the recent past, with respect to the changing requirements by the masses. In the olden times, people used to follow the conventional or traditional methods to sterilize any of the surgical instruments but now, things have changed and modern technology and improved network across the globe has enhanced the quality of the services manifold.
However what needs to be clearly mentioned here is the fact that although reliability and performance evaluation of the various methods have improved significantly, the basic techniques and the theoretical understanding of the concept remains the same.
Let us look at some of the ways in which the advancements in the field has brought about some really productive changes in the industry. These changes, it is important to note, have not only made the services easily accessible, but have also made the entire process quite transparent.
Packaging is being carefully attended
When we talk about the sterilization of the surgical instruments, we often oversee the importance of packaging it well. In case of any mishandling of the products, the sterility of the products can get effected. Now a days, it is being taken care of and unit, shelf as well as carton packaging is being used to ensure credibility and security of the items. The Pure-Bright System is one of those systems that is considered to be highly effective when it comes to killing harmful microorganisms from the surface of packaging as soon as they appear. This ensures that the sterilisation products stay free from any kind of harmful effect. In the recent times, different kinds of packaging have been introduced for different items. All the medical products need to be taken care of in an individuated manner as the chemical composition of all the sterilisation products is different.
Efficiency is multiplied by simplifying the processes
What needs to be underlined here is that there are two types of sterilization processes -hospital and industrial. Technological advancements have been employed in the direction of ascertaining good engineering and comprehensive laboratory reports. All the processes are scrutinized and monitored by carrying out in-depth certifications and the people involved in the process are professionally trained so that no glitch might accrue.
In hospitals too, several efforts are being made to simplify the process of sterilization. Manual participation is minimized and technology is taking over to ensure safe services.
Chemical composition of Sterilizers has improved significantly
Traditionally, multiple methodologies involving use of components like gamma (also known as E-beam), EtO, steam with warm water as well as dry heat on certain occasions. Another most prominent physical process is that of ionized radiation which is proven to be very effective.
Looking back at the recent advancements in the field, we get to know that the use of EtO has declined significantly. It is done with the dual intention of decimating the use of CFCs from the environment and to do away with the noxious impact of residuals as a result. People are now embracing the idea of proliferation of multiple types of regulated therapies.
In the formative years, the use of alkylating agents, including EtO and aldehydes, was accelerating. In the recent past though, it has been replaced by oxidative processes which are principally based on the compounds of “peroxy”. The anti-microbial properties of compounds such as chlorine dioxide, hydrogen peroxide, peroxy-sulphates and peracetic acids had been recognized in ancient times too but it is being utilized with great conviction and capacity recently only.
To be precise, the relevance of Peracetic Acid is being explored frantically. The liquid sterilant, from Surgeine Healthcare, for example is being used by industries and hospitals alike for the purpose of sterilizing thermolabile endoscopes. Even the vapor form of this acid is quite popular and is being employed in the processes such as decontamination, sterilization as well as disinfection. Although it has been in use since 1951 in abstract form, it is now being taken seriously as the central component. Acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide are too being utilized by the manufacturers of sterilisers but special care is being taken as these are highly corrosive in nature and hence need to be used in a calculated manner.
At this juncture, it will also be constructive to highlight that the Steris system is gradually replacing the glutaraldehyde system. Since it is a wet system, it needs to used with caution and has only limited application as of now. The chemical property and microbial purity have to be ensured so as to dissuade recontamination of the goods purified. Additionally, it has been hypothetically evaluated that the development of general purpose peracetic can minimize the environmental hazards. This, for now, remains an unexplored territory though. Surgeine Healthcare is voraciously working towards emphasis on use of peracetic acid sterilization through endoscopes and Hydrogen peroxide for general purposes.
The use of ozone is quite organic and is quite environmental- friendly. Its accessibility is based entirely on availability of the sunlight and exposure to the UV rays. However, recent technologies have come up with practical solutions for the same and it is bring now produced through electrical discharge in lesser time and in desirable quantity, unlike how it can be procured through natural means. Surgeine Healthcare is able to produce humified ozone quite effectively a hence can make the process of sterilization more productive and faster. Since we are dealing with chemicals, reactivity could be one issue, but regulated use and mindful approach can nullify the disadvantages of this technique.
Apart from it, gaseous processes such as CIO2 are also being used. Different concentrations and temperatures can be made effective for different kind of sterilization processes. Unlike EtO, CIO2 and the similar compounds are inflammable and hence are safer and more environment friendly.
Plasma- the fourth state of matter highly utilized
It contains a lot of free radicals, electrons, ions, as well as other neutral species. It is also used as a sterilizing agent. The sterrad process needs a special mention here. Hydrogen peroxide is used as an active source in this process to eliminate any toxicity from the surface of sterilizing equipment. It uses the technique of gas diffusion and absorbs all the contaminants.
Steaming -A revolutionary step
In earlier times perhaps, it was difficult to imagine the steam as an active process of sterilization. But it is not being integrated with diligent use of packaging, advanced tools and detailed methodology to get the desired results. It can be utilized as a microprocessor-based control system and its further implications are still being researched upon.
UV Rays combined with Psoralens
The use of UV rays in killing microbials is self-explanatory. Psoralens, for those who do not know, are found in many plants and have an active role in fighting infections from pathogenic fungi. It might also involve photosensitizing the bacteria and making them inactive in the process. It has been effective in killing virus causing HIV and toxaemia bacteria and is now being used as a sterilizing agent.
Apart from the listed developments, physical processes like microwaving, heating equipment at 70-80 degree Celsius and pulse-lighting system are also being used.
The validation of these processes is done as per the standards of Vienna agreement and FDA approval systems. The Medical Device Directive also has a say on the products that can be used and rejected by the industries and the hospitals alike.Ayka Medical, which has been quite an active company dealing recent advances in sterilization process, abide by all the standards and guidelines and has been matching its steps with the developments in the sterilization processes quite assiduously.