The most common sterilization method used in hospitals is autoclaving, also called steam sterilization. During autoclaving, surgical handtools are exposed to 100% humidity, 135ºC (275ºF) and pressure variations for up to 18 minutes. Most autoclaves also have additional vacuum cycles to facilitate steam penetration and kill viruses, fungi, bacteria, and spores that can hide in microscopic cavities on the device.
What this means for medical devices
Repeated exposure to this environment is what typically causes significant electrical and corrosion problems for motors and medical devices insufficiently designed to withstand these conditions.
Keith Halbert is a business unit director at Portescap (West Chester, Pa.), an Altra Co.