(3) Hindrances to sterilization. Effective sterilization may be hindered by
certain factors. The main hindrance is the presence of air in the sterilizing chamber.
Sterilizing failures may result from:
(a) Overloading. Loose packing of the sterilizer is essential to allow
free access of steam and escape of air. If all of the air is not allowed to escape, an
air-steam mixture will result in a lower temperature and the outside gauges may not
record this error.
(b) Oversized or too-tight packs. Air elimination is difficult to achieve if
packages are too large or wrapped too tightly.
(c) Improper operation. Neglecting to follow the manufacturer's
directions; shortening the exposure time for a rush order; failing to clean the sterilizer
properly; or failing to have regular inspection and proper maintenance.
There are some controls available to detect possible failures. These controls
will be discussed later in this lesson.
Advantages of steam sterilization. The advantages in steam sterilization
(a) It is the easiest, safest, and surest method so that any item that can
be steam-sterilized without damage should be.
(b) Steam is the fastest method.
It is the least expensive and most easily supplied.
(d) Most steam sterilization systems use automatic controls and
recording devices to eliminate the human factor as much as possible.
(e) Many items withstand repeated processing without damage.
It leaves no harmful residue.
(5) Disadvantages of steam sterilization. The disadvantages with steam
(a) Certain precautions must be used to prepare and package, to load
and operate, and to dry the load.
(b) Items must be clean, free from grease and oil, and non-heat
Steam must have direct contact with all areas of an item.