Spore Testing for an Effective Autoclave Sterilization

Spore Testing for an Effective Autoclave Sterilization

2020-01-04 0 By Karen Smith

The use of autoclave sterilizers is very important not just for cleaning but for sterilizing and disinfecting microorganisms as well. It is used in various fields such as dentistry and medicine. Nevertheless, it’s important to routinely check that your autoclave is functioning properly. According to experts, the best way to confirm effective autoclave sterilization is through spore testing.

Also known as biological indicator tests, spore testing determines whether strains which are highly resistant can survive the process of sterilization. This process is very essential and should be done regularly to ensure that the autoclave is properly sterilizing the equipment inside it.

Just like any other machines, autoclaves may also malfunction due to different causes such as operator error and mechanical faults. A malfunctioning autoclave can enable microorganisms to survive sterilization and this can be dangerous.  Therefore, those who operate autoclaves should be fully trained on how to spore test the machine.


The Need to Sterilize Medical and Dental Equipment

In general, sterilization involves the killing of microorganisms to prevent their growth and proliferation. Through this approach, it is assured that the equipment is completely disinfected and ready to be used for the next procedure. As we all know, sterilization is considered a standard precaution to prevent the transmission of viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.

Sterilization has been utilized in a lot of industries like research, food and most especially health. The process is utilized to prevent the spread of disease from patient to patient, to prevent harmful bacterial growth and to avoid the cross-contamination of research samples.


Types of Sterilization

There are two common ways to sterilize medical and dental equipment – through heat or through a chemical known as glutaraldehyde. Although it depends on the object to be sterilized, it’s more recommended to choose heat since chemicals are corrosive and can be highly toxic.


Autoclave Sterilization

It is quite interesting to know how an autoclave sterilizes equipment. First, it removes all the air inside the central chamber. Next, by using a vacuum pump, it replaces the air with hot steam, and objects are heated to as much as 270 degrees Fahrenheit or 132 degrees Celsius. The heating process will take around 20 minutes.

High pressure is involved in a sterilization process. To make sure that the pressure is properly managed, the function of the safety valve, the external locking mechanism and the cylindrical shape come in.


Spore Testing the Autoclaveautoclave sterilization

Spore testing is recommended to be implemented once a week to assure that the machine is properly functioning. In a spore test, a non-harmful bacterial spore known as Geobacillus stearothermophilus is used, placed in a vial or grown to a filter paper. Spore testing instructions should be strictly followed.

While the testing is taking place, the location of the autoclave test kits should be moved inside the chamber to ensure that all areas are being treated. Once done, the vial or strip will be sent to a lab for analysis. It is then stored inside an incubator for bacteria culture. If there is presence of bacteria, it indicates that sterilization is not complete.