METHODS OF STERILIZATION
a. Steam Under Pressure. Saturated steam under pressure is the most
reliable and most frequently used sterilization method. Pressurized steam is the most
dependable method because of its heat and its ability to penetrate thus destroying
microorganisms. For metals and other non-permeable materials such as instruments
and utensils, steam contact of the surface of the item sterilizes the item. Only those
surfaces with which the steam has contact are sterile. It is important that you be able to
determine the difference between surface sterilization and the sterilization of porous
materials. Figure 3-1 illustrates one of the larger autoclaves used in the CMS, while
figure 3-2 shows a small autoclave which might be used in a clinic.
Figure 3-1. Typical autoclave used in the CMS with loading carriage.
Figure 3-2. Small autoclave.