The cleaning of complex reusable surgical instruments requires different considerations and processes, compared to conventional reusable instruments. Samuel Morais BScEng (Hons), from STERIS, offers some advice on tackling some of the key challenges around decontamination of complex surgical instruments – from cleaning and transport, through to reprocessing.
With modern advancements in science and technology, we find ourselves faced with continuous challenges due to changes in the design of reusable medical devices. These challenges typically occur due to the competing requirements of making the medical device fit for its surgical purpose, versus the need for safe decontamination of the device, ready for its next use. When dealing with these decontamination requirements, the first step is to consider how these medical devices can be safely and correctly cleaned, in order that subsequent processing steps, such as sterilization, are not compromised.
Even typical solid or box joint constructions can present cleaning challenges. However, the complex designs that we find in robotic surgical instruments do present new and sometimes very unique challenges, especially due to the large array of different complex surgical instruments that are now available for use. While these complex surgical instrument advancements bring huge possibilities for innovative surgical techniques and intervention to the fields of medicine and surgery, they also bring additional challenges and complexities to the decontamination process.
With that, CSSD departments inherit the responsibility to effectively reprocess instruments of all types and complexities, within the scope of the processing instructions provided by the medical device manufacturers. These instructions may typically make use of pre-cleaning solutions that are used even before the medical device enters the central sterilization department (CSSD). CSSDs also need an effective and appropriate washer-disinfector installed to process their range of surgical instruments as part of the decontamination cycle.
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