We recently explained Ultrasonic Cleaning in our blog focused on Healthcare Associated Infections. In case you missed it, Ultrasonic Cleaning is a cleaning process where high frequency sound is used in conjunction with a cleaning fluid to clean particulate matter off of heavily soiled items, like surgical or dental instruments. In the case of a medical office, Ultrasonic cleaning with units such as the Midmark Soniclean Ultrasonic Cleaner or the Tuttnauer Clean & Simple Ultrasonic Cleaner, is often used to prepare instruments to be sterilized in an autoclave. Now that we’re all caught up on what they are used for, let’s look further into how they work.
In an Ultrasonic Cleaner, very high frequency sound is emitted into a cleaning solution, which can be a chemical solution, or simply water. Sound waves, in the simplest sense, are actually just pressure waves. These waves contain high-pressure areas and low-pressure areas, known as compressions and rarefactions respectively. In compression, molecules of the matter the sound is passing through are pressed close together. In a rarefaction, molecules are relatively far apart. This compression and expansion when occurring in a liquid causes cavitation, which is the formation of microscopic bubbles on the surface of the items in the solution. In other words, by using a very high frequency sound wave that is outside of the range of human hearing, many thousands of bubbles are formed. Since these bubbles are so small, they can work themselves in to the small nooks and crannies of medical instruments, making ultrasonic cleaners ideal for pre-sterilization cleaning. But what happens after the bubbles form is actually what does the cleaning.
As kids, there is one thing we learned about playing with bubbles…they always pop. This popping of a bubble is what actually performs the cleaning in an Ultrasonic Cleaner. The inside of cavitation bubbles are very hot and very in high pressure. When a cavitation bubble pops on the surface of an object in the cleaning solution, that pressure and heat jets toward the surface of the object, blasting away particulate matter. This allows instruments to be safely cleaned and with minimal labor and effort.
There are many sizes and styles of Ultrasonic Cleaners on the market today so call our sales professionals to assist you in finding the model best for your practice.
Healthcare Associated Infections and Prevention May 02 2014
According to the World Health Organization, Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) effect 7 out of 100 people hospitalized in developed nations. Around 30% of all ICU patients will suffer from at least one healthcare associated infection while hospitalized. An important discussion point is while these infections range in severity, most cases of HAI may have been prevented with proper safety measures and sanitation protocols. Below are a few ideas for disinfecting and sterilizing in surgical settings.
First, be sure to keep patient areas clean. All surfaces should be cleaned with a disinfectant solution that meets standard kill time guidelines. Traditionally, disinfectants have been sprayed on surfaces, left on for the optimum kills time, then wiped with a cloth or towel. Disinfectant wipes, impregnated with disinfectant solutions have become very popular in recent years. Pop-top tubs, similar to those commonly used at home, are popular in healthcare today as they are usually contained within a wall-mounted holder.
Next, used medical disposables should be properly disposed of. Most medical offices today utilize red biohazard waste receptacles with red biohazard trash liners to for used waste that could carry infection. It is also common for medical practices to inventory a spill kit which contains all items, such as gloves, small shovel, waste solidifier and other items necessary for a blood spill.
Used medical reuseables, such an stainless steel surgical instruments, should be treated to remove visible particulate matter. This may be achieved by use of an ultrasonic cleaner. Like those offered by Midmark and Tuttnauer, Ultrasonic Cleaners use cavitation bubbles caused by high frequency sound waves traveling through a cleaning solution to remove contaminants on the surface, and deep in the cracks or pores of the item being cleaned. A cleaning solution should be used in the water of the Ultrasonic Cleaner.
Using an Ultrasonic cleaner should remove visible contaminants off instruments, prepping them for sterilization. Sterilization is the process of killing all organisms on or in medical reuseables. Sterilization can be accomplished in a few ways, depending on guidelines for the specific product. Cold sterilization is the process of soaking items within an germicidal sterilizing solution for a given amount of time, killing bacteria and viruses. Also as common is the use of an Autoclave Sterilizer. Autoclaves use steam and pressure to kill bacteria and viruses. It’s important to follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions to assure sterilization takes place.
As more is being found everyday regarding Healthcare Associated Infections, it is essential to continue education on proper techniques for cleaning and sterilization.