For anyone that's ever stepped foot inside a hospital, emergency room, or doctor's office, he will know that the role of sterilization is one of the most important processes. Sterilization begins when nurses and doctors use latex gloves when checking out patients and can also be found in the operating room and even under routine check ups. An autoclave is a device used to sterilize medical supplies and equipment above their boiling point by using high pressure steam heated to 121 degrees Celsius or more and superheated water. The machine was invented in 1879 by Charles Chamberland and is used in such industries as medicine, microbiology, veterinary science, podiatry and dentistry. Once doctors of this era realized the effectiveness of the autoclave, the device became an indispensable part of every doctor's office and hospital.
Autoclaves and sterilizers come in several forms. One of the most popular autoclaves resembles a pressure cooker and is a large pot with a gauge on top that fastens to the top of the pot. The water inside is pressurized to reach above the boiling point at 100 degrees Celsius.
The role of autoclaves and sterilizers in the medical field is a very important one, because without the device, it would be extremely difficult to properly clean medical equipment and objects for use on another patient. Most of the doctor's offices that use autoclaves are usually small in nature and sterilize just a small batch of medical instruments. Hospital autoclaves are much larger and resemble the size of a dishwasher and can sterilize a larger number of medical instruments in one cycle. When shopping for refurbished autoclaves some of the best sterilizer and autoclave models are one-touch instruments, meaning that the technician loads the machine, presses a single button and lets the machine do the rest.
Autoclaves help to kill all bacteria, fungi, viruses and spores that can be found on medical devices and other objects. Although many medical procedures use single-use items, there are many objects and pieces of equipment that have to be sterilized before further usage. The need for autoclaves and sterilizers was prompted when doctors began using hypodermic needles. And ever since the introduction of autoclaves and sterilizers, hospitals and doctor's office across the world have used them in their practice toward the best benefit of their patients.
Since autoclaves and sterilizers use damp heat, some products cannot be sterilized. Items made of plastic or paper, for example, would melt or become destroyed and therefore cannot be sterilized in an autoclave. Some medical devices and other objects also come equipped with medical indicators on medical packing which will change colors once the accurate conditions for sterilization have been met. Once the color on the outside packaging changes, the object has been properly clean and is ready for further usage.
Autoclaves are also used in the medical field when used to sterilize medical waste before it is disposed of in the standard municipal solid waste stream. Due to environmental and health concerns, the use of autoclaves in this fashion has grown considerably.