Do you know the fundamentals of surgical instrument care?

Proper instrument care can protect your investment and facilitate better surgical technique.

Download our free guide, and use these tips to clean up your approach:

A: Surgery

Begin the washing process within 10 minutes after surgery.

Keep contaminated (bloody) instruments wet by placing a moist towel over the instruments or using an instrument pre-cleaning solution (Our Spectra-Moist: product # SS6). Do not let blood or other soils dry on the instruments.

B: Washing

Wash instruments with a neutral pH soap (product #SS2). Do not use Betadine, Chlorhexidine solution, or any surgeon’s hand scrub. These products cause spotting and corrosion of surgical instruments. Using an instrument cleaning brush (product #45-303SS), brush out serrations and hinged area.

C: Ultrasonic Cleaning

If an ultrasonic unit is available, place instruments in the ultrasonic machine for 10 to 20 minutes using a neutral pH solution (product #SS1).
Note: Ultrasonic cleaning provides vastly superior results over manual cleaning and can greatly reduce the risk of cross-contamination and infection.

D: Rinsing

After ultrasonic cleaning, rinse with fresh, clean water or (optional) distilled water.

E: Drying

Place instruments on a towel with ratchets open and blot off water with a towel. Allowing instruments to air dry without towel-drying causes water spots and minor rusting

F: Lubrication

After instruments are dry, spray the open instruments with lubricant (product #SS3). Eliminate the use of white lubricant “milk” baths, as they have a tendency to become contaminated and harbor bacteria. Also, avoid using mineral or silicone based lubricants, as these interfere with steam sterilization.

G: Sterilization

All instruments should be sterilized with the hinges and ratchets in the open position. This allows better steam penetration and prevents cracking of the box lock (hinged area). If putting instruments in a pan or on a tray, use a perforated pan or tray, which allows better steam penetration and more effective drying. Place heavy instruments on the bottom, lighter, more delicate instruments on the top. If sterilizing in paper/ plastic pouches, do not stack pouches on top of one another during sterilization.

Know the Enemies of Surgical Instruments

  1. Blood and tissue.
  2. Allowing water or debris to air dry on instruments.
  3. Washing instruments with dish soap, laundry soap, household cleaners, disinfectants, surgeon’s hand soap or any other soap not specifically designed for use on surgical instruments.
  4. Harsh cold soak solutions such as chlorhexidine, saline and iodine. Use instrument-safe cold soak solutions only (product #SS8). Soaking instruments in harsh solutions will eventually damage stainless steel. Soaking gold-handled (tungsten carbide) needle holders may loosen the solder that holds the jaws in place, resulting in the jaws falling out.

Determining if it’s Rust or Stains

In the event that a brown/orange colored stain appears on an instrument, use a standard pencil eraser to determine the source of discoloration. If the discoloration is removed with the eraser and the metal underneath is smooth and clean, this is only a stain. If a pit mark appears under the discoloration, this is corrosion and/or rust. Use an instrument stain remover (product #SS7) to remove stubborn stains and keep instruments bright, clean and shiny

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