Advantages and disadvantages
The advantage of PA's ability to function in the presence of organic matter is unique. Studies by various investigators have shown that, unlike low-temperature gas plasma or traditional ETO sterilization methods, the automated liquid chemical process using a PA-based sterilant is efficacious in narrow lumens in the presence of serum challenges. This is an advantage in narrow endoscope lumens, which present a challenge to current gas and plasma technology.
The automated liquid chemical sterilization process provides other advantages:
- Short cycle times (30 minutes or less) allowing for rapid turnaround time and less device inventory
- Process standardization with automated controls allowing for process and load identification for documentation purposes
- Environmental and user safety (no special monitoring or ventilation required)
- Patient safety (no toxic residues)
- Device safety (low temperature, wide range of material compatibility, and no residues)
- Labor saving (easy operation with no manual rinsing or flushing of disinfectant/sterilant)
There are limitations to this form of sterilization that must be noted:
- Devices must be totally immersible
- Devices must be able to withstand a temperature of 50 to 56 degrees Centigrade
- Items are processed prior to intended use (just-in-time, no shelf life)
- Items must fit comfortably in the sterilization containers and trays
- The sterilant must make contact with all surfaces of the device
Safety, nosocomial infection transmission, cost containment, labor, and time must all be factored when determining an appropriate reprocessing method. The need for rapid, safe and cost-effective device sterilization has led to an increase in the use of liquid chemical sterilization.