Sterilization Techniques for Stainless Steel Veterinary Hardware

In all medical environments, the sterilization of equipment is a necessary step to take to avoid spreading infections. While small medical instruments like scalpels and surgical scissors receive routine attention by being sterilized in solutions and in autoclaves, larger sets of equipment, such as stainless steel veterinary hardware, must often be sterilized by other means.

Stainless steel hardware could include track & traveller systems or stainless steel rigging products like hooks and clips. Generally, this type of hardware is used to secure animals for sedation, to move immobile animals around a facility, or to lift animals up to administer care. 

Infectious Diseases

There are more and more cases of viruses and diseases spread between dogs every year. With these statistics the American Veterinary Medical Foundation warns of specific diseases that put your animals at risk. These include parvo, external parasites like ticks and fleas, and dog/canine flu, which is a relatively new disease in dogs that is spread between dogs much like the flu does between humans.

There is a clear need for clean environments where animals are being treated. Those diseases aren’t just transferred between animals. According to the AVMF, “People can also spread some diseases (such as mange, ringworm, kennel cough and canine influenza) from dog to dog through shared brushes, collars, bedding, etc. or by petting or handling an infected dog before petting or handling another dog.”

Sterilizing Stainless Steel

Stainless steel refers to a group of alloys that contain at least 10.5% chromium. Because of its chromium content, stainless steel is resistant to tarnishing and rust. It is widely used in a variety of industries including the care of animals. The energy industry values it for its corrosion resistance, for example. Of course, you may be familiar with it because you own stainless steel kitchen knives or appliances in your home.

Stainless steel is widely used in medical settings for its strength and robustness, but mostly because it is more hygienic than other metals. Stainless steel is relatively easy to clean and sterilize.

Common sterilization techniques for stainless steel hardware include moist heat sterilization, the use of a disinfectant, and radiation sterilization.

Moist Heat Sterilization

During moist heat sterilization, a piece of equipment is saturated with hot air and water vapor at high pressures for an extended period of time. This process kills common microbes and can eliminate spores.

Many pieces of veterinary hardware may be too large to fit into an autoclave. However, some hardware can be disassembled so that individual pieces may be cleaned.

Moist heat sterilization is most commonly used with stainless steel medical instruments used in surgery or those that have direct contact with an infected area. It may not be necessary for veterinary hardware like harnesses or track systems, but it may be an important step to take if this hardware is exposed to infectious diseases or other risks.

Disinfectant Sterilization

Disinfectant sterilization may be the most commonly used solution for sterilizing veterinary hardware, especially hardware that cannot be disassembled and fit into an autoclave or another sterilization device.

Hardware can simply be sprayed with an isopropyl alcohol or ethanol alcohol solution. After waiting approximately 20 minutes, a staff member can moisten a cloth with alcohol and use it to wipe down every stainless steel surface. They can then dry the stainless steel with a clean cloth.

Because isopropyl alcohol is classified as an intermediate level disinfectant, this type of cleaning cannot be considered sterilization in compliance with medical standards. However, for veterinary equipment that is in common use, it is often an important step to reducing the risk of infections.

Radiation Sterilization

Microwave radiation is the most cost-effective form of radiation sterilization. Some medical devices are sterilized with ionizing radiation, but this must typically be done in a special facility. Microwave radiation is sometimes used to sterilize medical waste as well.

Obtaining Stainless Steel Rehabilitation Hardware

Ronstan provides stainless steel hardware and rigging products to a number of industries, including the healthcare industry. Our stainless steel products are load rated and tested in the harshest environments to ensure their strength and versatility.

If you need load rated and load tested steel products for your equipment, contact us today to find out how our products can help.

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