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CPT Medical

What is the process of sterilization for surgical trays

The surgical tray is the most important piece of equipment the surgeon needs, and the surgical team uses to hold, sort, and distribute the surgical instruments the surgeon will need during a surgical procedure. The surgical tray must be sterilized; meaning free from germs, debris and other contaminants.

Sterilization Methods Used

Bacterial spores live in the environment and can survive under unfavorable conditions. Hospitals use proven chemicals to destroy bacteria, which in some cases, all bacteria are not completely destroyed. The effectiveness of sterilization is dependent upon the effects of the sterilizing agent.


Since heat destroys most if not all microorganisms, steam, along with added moisture is the most effective, since steam alone is not adequate. Above normal atmospheric pressure is needed for temperature increase to destroy microbial life. No living organism can survive moisturized saturated steam for 15 minutes or longer, at 250 Fahrenheit. At the end of the heat and moisture process, the re-evaporation cycle must be sufficient in drying the trays in order to maintain sterility.


This process is used to sterilize equipment and tools which are sensitive to heat and moisture. This chemical agent destroys microorganisms, by interrupting its normal reproductive cycle. However, it must be in direct contact with the microorganism or with the items that needs to be sterilized. This sterilization process takes 16 to 18 hours, which is longer than the steam sterilization process. Once surgical trays are compromised, contaminated air enters into the sterile environment, creating a safety issue.