When it comes to cleaning endoscopy tools and endoscopy equipment, there are a lot of options to choose from, but one of the most common is flash sterilization. This method is chosen often because it is an extremely quick way of sterilizing tools. Using flash sterilization, any endoscopy equipment that is contaminated is quickly cleaned using heat and steam, but speed is not always the best way and flash sterilization can actually cause damage. Here’s what you need to know:
What Is Flash Sterilization
Flash sterilization is a type of autoclaving technique that uses high temperatures to sterilize equipment. Typically autoclaving uses steam temperatures around 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes to an hour, but flash sterilization is slightly different. When endoscopy equipment is flashed, a much higher temperature and pressure steam is used for a shorter duration of time. While this can sterilize problems quickly there are some downsides.
Flash Sterilization Can Cause Rusting
When endoscopy tools are removed from any flash sterilization chamber, they are wet, which can cause rusting and corrosion of products. Since there is high heat and pressure involved, the corroding effects of water on certain metals can be amplified and rusting and damage can happen quicker. It may not show after a single use, but repeated flash sterilization will continue to break down metals and corrode material.
Flash Sterilization Can Damage Rubber and Plastic Components
In addition to having an effect on the metal portions of endoscopy equipment, any plastic and rubber components are at risk as well. When exposed to high temperatures and steam, many plastics and rubbers can deteriorate and warp. This is very problematic if you are dealing with gaskets or any portion of endoscopy tools that need to have a rubber seal. If flash sterilization causes the rubber to warp, it may have to be replaced before the endoscopy equipment can be used again.