What is an Autoclave?
An autoclave is a machine used to eradicate biohazardous waste from the surface of medical and scientific tools or instruments. It disinfects laboratory instruments, pharmaceutical items, surgical equipment, and other materials by subjecting them to pressurized steam.
The autoclave was invented in 1879 by Charles Chamberland and is now commonly known and referred to as steam sterilization machines. Today, the importance and benefits of autoclave technology cannot be overemphasized, particularly in the medical and scientific field and especially to the general public. Autoclaves are widely considered as an indispensable part of every hospital, health clinic, dental clinic and even parlor salon.
Importance of Autoclaves
After every medical or scientific operation or procedure, it is a standard operating procedure to ensure that the all hygiene requirements have been addressed and followed correctly. This includes making sure that all the tools, devices and instruments used in the operation or procedure have been correctly sterilized afterward.
This is where autoclaves come in, because they provide an essential part in the sterilization process. In this phase, laboratory and scientific instruments will be disinfected by heating them above the boiling point. This part of the procedure must always be completed with in order to deliver a safe and a non-life threatening procedure in the future.
As we all know, bacteria and microbes on medical instruments cannot be decontaminated by merely using water, detergent and a brush. Extra efforts must be undertaken to make sure that these tools are sterilized and free of bacteria before they can be used again in another procedure. If sterilization is not satisfactorily completed on a previously used medical tool or instrument, the risk of spreading harmful microorganisms becomes significantly higher, as do the chances of exposing future patients to life-threatening bacteria.
How Do Autoclaves Improve Sterilization Practices?
Whether you’re using a benchtop autoclave or a room-sized bulk autoclave, it’s essential that you develop a deep understanding of how the sterilization process works. The very basic information you must know is that all autoclaves work on the same principles that are similar to a normal kitchen pressure cooker. To further illustrate this comparison, the door of an autoclave is locked to form a sealed chamber so the air within the chamber is replaced by steam. The steam is then pressurized to reach the desired sterilization temperature and time, before exhausting the steam and allowing the goods to be removed.
This process can be carried out in two ways. The first is through fast exhaust whereby the chamber ensures high temperature and pressure for a particular period of time. The second way is known as slow exhaust as it prevents a sterilized liquid from boiling, exhausting slowly at the end of the cycle, and gradually cooling the superheated liquid.
The idea behind these methods is that organisms survive in a reasonable temperature but if they are exposed to the right level of heat, the living material of these microorganisms will be damaged and will eventually die. Thus, it is very important to note that generating the ideal conditions for saturated steam must be achieved and maintained in order to yield positive results. Situations like superheated steam and wet steam have been proven to hamper the sterilization process and lead to an undesirable sterilization outcome.
Autoclaves have revolutionized the sterilization process, and greatly improved hygiene and bacteria control within hospitals, dental clinics and almost anywhere that requires any type of sterilization. With the continuing advancements in technology, autoclaves are now becoming more affordable and available world-wide to less wealthy practices, reducing the risk of infection from contaminated surgical instruments.
For more detailed information on autoclaves, their functions and different classes, visit Emech Medical.
I began writing as a professional on my personal blog and then discovered my true calling, which is writing about technology, news and gadgets in general. I am a technical writer, author and blogger since 2010. An industry watcher that stays on top of the latest features, I am extremely passionate about juicy tech news and everything related to gadgets.