2-10. FUNCTIONAL TESTING OF THE STERILIZER
Routine testing of the sterilizer is necessary to ensure proper functioning.
Sterilizers must be tested with bacteriological spore tests at least once a week.
2-11. BACTERIOLOGICAL SPORE TESTING
a. General. Spores are used to set the standard for testing the efficiency of
sterilizers because spores are the most difficult form of bacteria to destroy.
b. Two Types of Testing. There are two systems used for bacteriological
spore testing. One uses spore strips and the other uses spore vials.
(1) Outside medical laboratory. Some dental facilities send bacteriological
spore strips from the sterilizers to a microbiology laboratory for culture tests.
(2) Facility incubator. Other dental facilities have a self-contained incubator
for testing spore vials. The vial system is more popular because it eliminates the
necessity of an outside laboratory with their transportation costs, communication
problems, and increased risk of false positives.
c. Procedure for Testing. The manufacturer's instructions must be followed for
each of the spore test brands. Each type uses the concept of a control strip or control
vial that is activated but not sterilized in order to prove that the test batch is still usable.
The tests must be performed weekly and the results must be kept on file for one year.
d. Interpreting Spore Testing Results. A spore strip or vial that tests positive
after running in a sterilizer for the full cycle indicates bacteriological growth and is
evidence that the sterilizer did not kill the spores. The results warrant the following
Check the control strip or vial. It should also be positive.
Suspend use of the sterilizer.
Check the expiration date of the test batch.
(4) Recall and resterilize (in a different sterilizer) all items sterilized after the
last negative laboratory test (one week before) using the load control number (LCN).
Perform the spore test again.
(6) If the second test is positive (including the control), call the medical
maintenance office for repair of the sterilizer.