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CPT Medical

Autoclaving for Custom Trays

Autoclaving refers to the process of sterilizing equipment and supplies with the use of high pressure usually saturated at 250°F (121°C) for around fifteen minutes. Steam is the sterilization agent that is used in autoclaving to kill microorganisms such as spores and bacteria found on custom procedure trays. By now you already know that all contaminated equipment and all infectious material or apparatus such as custom procedure trays should be decontaminated before being stored, discarded or washed. Autoclaving is the preferable method to go about all of the above.

Autoclaving is also utilized in curing composites, and vulcanizing rubber since the heat and pressure from autoclaves allows attainment of the best possible physical properties. The process of autoclaving is widely used in the fields of:

  • Dentistry
  • Veterinary science
  • Medicine
  • Body Piercing and Tattooing
  • Microbiology

What an autoclave is

An autoclave sterilizer was invented by Charles Chamberland in 1879. Around that time of invention, doctors were in dire need of a more reliable sterilization technique than open flaming. Researchers also began to understand the benefits of sterile surgery. Advantages of an autoclave were soon evident and autoclaving became an essential part of every clinic and hospital.

An autoclave is utilized for sterilization of pharmaceutical items, laboratory instruments, and surgical equipment including custom procedure trays among other materials. Autoclaves can sterilize hollows, liquids, solids, and instruments of different sizes and shapes. Autoclaves vary in functionality, size, and shape. Typical autoclaves are similar to pressure cookers; both use the power of steam to destroy spores, germs, and bacteria that are resistant to powerful detergents and boiling water.

How autoclaving is used in hospital settings

An autoclave chamber usually sterilizes custom procedure trays among other laboratory or medical instruments through heating them above boiling point. Most clinics own tabletop autoclaves that are typically similar in size to microwave ovens while most hospitals utilize large autoclaves (also known as horizontal autoclaves). Large autoclaves can be used to process many custom procedure trays among other surgical instruments. This move is advantageous as it meets the ongoing demand for sterile custom procedure trays in emergency wards and operating rooms. Horizontal Autoclaves are usually located in the Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD).

Autoclaving guidelines for custom procedure trays

If you choose to use autoclaves to decontaminate custom procedure trays, then you should stick to the following guidelines to experience the best results:

  • Check the drain screen of the autoclave
  • Prepare relevant research materials for sterilization of custom procedure trays
  • Use secondary containment for the custom procedure trays being autoclaved
  • Shut the autoclave door in a secure manner
  • Opt for the proper cycle
  • Set the suitable time for sterilization of the custom procedure trays and drying
  • Start the autoclave
  • Fill in the autoclave log

When the autoclave cycle is finished, follow the following precautions

  • Put on personal protection equipment such as lab coat, closed-toe shoes, heat-resistant gloves and eye protection
  • Do not open the door, not unless the pressure gauge has dropped to zero with no time remaining
  • Avoid opening an autoclave set for “slow exhaust” unless the cycle is complete as this might damage the operator and the autoclave
  • Open the door with caution and allow steam to escape first before removing the custom procedure trays
  • Let liquids stand for ten to twenty minutes after opening the autoclave before carefully removing the custom procedure trays

The process of autoclaving is very useful in the sterilization of medical waste before disposing in the waste stream. This method is mostly recommended than incineration because incinerators are inclined to raising health and environmental concerns.