Despite the many sterilization methods available today, steam sterilization continues to rise as a top choice because of its simple yet effective decontamination method. Through the use of an autoclave, this process involves four parameters: steam, pressure, temperature and time. A successful cycle directly exposes the contaminated items to steam at the required temperature and pressure for the specified time.
Steam sterilization is typically carried by using a high-pressure chamber, known as an autoclave. Once the chamber is sealed, steam is pumped into the top and sides of the chamber, forcing the air out. Steam is then pumped into the chamber at a higher pressure than normal to create temperatures ranging between 121 °C (250 °F) to 132 °C (270 °F) to kill microorganisms. According to the CDC, for the sterilization of wrapped healthcare instruments, these temperatures must be maintained anywhere from 4 to 30 minutes depending on the type of autoclave. Sterilization occurs when the saturated steam touches the instrument causing a condensation and immediate transfer of heat.
Time and temperature are important factors in the process, but pressure is the driving force behind it. Without the presence of pressure, steam would not be able to reach the high temperatures necessary to destroy harmful pathogens. Standard temperature and pressures values include 121 °C at 15 psi and 132 °C at 27 psi.
Data loggers are often used to monitor, record and validate each sterilization cycle. With the capability to withstand temperatures up to 140 °C and high-pressure environments, MadgeTech data loggers offer an easy way to ensure accuracy and safety. A MadgeTech top-seller, the Autoclave Validation System, provides users with the tools needed not only to perform autoclave validations, but also create reports to assist with the 21 CFR Part II requirements.
To check out the complete line of data loggers for a variety of sterilization methods, click here.