FSS # V797P-4462B | Medassets Contract # MS02526 | Premier Contract # PP-OR-1380

CPT Medical


Sterilization of Custom Trays

Custom procedure trays are one of the most critical instruments in a medical facility. These instruments can be used in many different ways, especially during surgeries. It’s important to sterilize custom trays before use and storage given the pivotal role they play in operation rooms. Use of advanced technology was only available in world-class medical facilities until recently. However, there’s a high demand for sophisticated methods of sterilization in numerous professions currently.

Types of Sterilization

There are several common types of sterilizing custom surgical trays in operating theatres. The most popular include:

  • Ethylene Oxide (ETO)
  • Steam
  • Low — Temperature Sterilizers

When purchasing a custom surgical tray, it’s normally tested before delivery, but when reusing them, you may need the help of professionals through an agency to apply both biological and chemical indicators for sterilization. The process involves typically three different “empty” steam cycles in which both indicators are supposed to test trays. There is separate testing for all cycles used in sterilization.

Custom surgical trays can now be sterilized through the following steps as per the Center for Disease for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):


Pre-clean all trays and instruments using water mixed with a detergent. A specialized cleaning solution can also be useful in eradicating foreign materials. The instruments and trays should then be washed and dried by use of a mechanical cleaning machine. It’s crucial to inspect each item both visually and microscopically for cleanliness before packaging them.

Although the decontamination area should be separate, it should also be near. However, it’s important to note that the separation of the decontamination area should be acute meaning there should be at least walls separating it from other areas. The decontamination area’s airflow should direct contaminants as far away from the operating sectors as possible. Professionals suggest that air in a decontamination area should be changed after around every ten minutes.

People doing the decontamination should wear proper attire, face masks, gloves, and goggles. The safety measure protects everyone including the patients who will come “under the knife” Without proper protection, it’s more likely for infections to occur.


All items must be packaged in hard plastic containers after being cleaned. To maintain the sterilization, the surgical instruments can be placed on a surgical tray. When using your own method of sterilized packing for custom procedure trays, you can include:

  • Microbial Penetration Barriers
  • Sterilant Penetration Allowance
  • Sterility Retention Post-Sterilization
  • Contamination Protection During Handling


Store the trays and other surgical instruments far away from the floor, walls, and ceiling to allow for easy cleaning and monitoring as well as a conducive air circulation. Avoid placing custom trays and other instruments in a wet area since this can contaminate them with microorganisms from surfaces or the air. Disassemble any equipment with moving parts during storage. Methods of sterility retention during storage include:

  • Roll Stock/Reels
  • Rigid Containers
  • Sterilization Wraps
  • Peel-Open Pouches


There is need to monitor sterilization periodically to test for failed sterilization or contamination. Mechanical monitors like pressure or temperature can accomplish this. Biological indicators can also monitor how deadly the sterilization process was to certain infectious materials and spores. Finally, chemical indicators that are sensitive to chemical components attached to the outside of packaging or heat can also be useful in monitoring.

Each activity should be done by highly skilled professionals who thoroughly understand the process. Also, each activity should be designated a separate yet controlled area when the above steps are being undertaken.