EtO (ethylene oxide) sterilization is used to sterilize pharmaceutical and medical products, which cannot support conventional high temperature steam sterilization (equipment, which incorporates plastic packaging, plastic containers or electronic components).
Today hundreds of medical facilities worldwide give preference to ethylene oxide sterilizers for processing the most sensitive instruments. Anti-microbial agents are able to kill all known bacteria, fungi and viruses, destroying even sterilization resistant bacterial spores and microorganisms. Even with repeated use ethylene oxide treats all medical materials gently, though being rather tough with microbes. As the use of an ethylene oxide sterilizer predetermines the use of all-plastic packaging, it permits to seal items and maintain them for an indefinite period following sterilization.
Ethylene oxide can be effectively used for many medical devices. It is recognized as a perfect solution for:
custom procedure kits
devices that are made right from materials that possess physical properties that degrade with irradiation or heat
plastic and cellulose products, which can exhibit discoloration with irradiation
different materials that arentt compatible with other sterilization methods
As well as with many other sterilization devices, EtO should be used very carefully, as this is a known toxic substance. This is why the users should pay special attention to the correct usage guidelines in order to avoid adverse reactions for operators or patients. To remove residues after the process aeration is required. Keep in mind that pure ethylene oxide is flammable; this is why one must take care to prevent its ignition.
This chemical substance is compatible with most materials. It is a contact sterilant, which means that complex devices with long lumens and mated surfaces or any other hard-to-kill designs require longer exposure times in order to be effective.
The substance can be effectively used for sterilization of glass and metal surfaces. It won’t permeate through materials like these. However, it cannot sterilize liquids, thus many lubricants present a real problem for sterilization.
Sterilizers with Glass Ampules
When using an ethylene oxide sterilizer that uses glass ampules, an operator should place wrapped items inside a plastic bag of the container box. Then one should break a glass ampule and inert the stabilizers inside the liner bag. Then it is quickly collapsed to expel the air and simply sealed with a twist-tie. To enclose the bag the container is shut immediately. The liner bag inflates rapidly as ethylene oxide diffuses through the sheath and the sealed bag.
During the process of sterilization, the substance defuses into the room air. In 12 hours the container and the bag should be opened, and the devices removed for further aeration.