Questions and Answers about Flash Sterilization

Statim autoclaves are not “flash” sterilizers.

SciCan’s STATIM cassette sterilizers have a biological effectiveness that has been proven in tests for hollow and solid instruments at many internationally recognized institutes in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

See this statement for more information:

AAMI, AORN, APIC Issue Immediate Use Sterilization Statement

…“flash sterilization” is an antiquated term that does not fully describe the various steam sterilization cycles now used to process items not intended to be stored for later use. Read the full ST79 Statement for details here and AAMI Article here

Question: What is flash sterilization?

Flash Sterilization usually means steam sterilization of an unwrapped instrument or device for 3 to 10 minutes in 270° F saturated steam.  Flash sterilization is usually accomplished with a gravity displacement cycle, although certain newer sterilizers may employ a vacuum at the beginning or end of the cycle to remove air, steam, or aid in drying.

Question: Why use flash sterilization?

Flash sterilization is used when rapid sterilization of instrument or devices is required. This need may be the result of a limited number of instrument sets, a need for unanticipated instruments, or a contaminated instrument.

Question: What is the main problem with flash sterilization?

The problem is not with the sterilization process, but with the difficulty in maintaining sterility at the end of sterilization. It has been common practice to sterilize items in an open mesh basket. Upon removal from the sterilizer, the basket containing the items is covered or wrapped. The basket is then transported through non sterile areas to the operating site.

Once the sterilizer is opened at the end, of the cycle, the basket and its contents may be exposed to recontamination. Even with subsequent wrapping or covering, it is difficult to ensure the items have remained sterile.

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Basics on Processing & Sterilization – Sterile & Materials Processing Department – University of Rochester Medical Center

Hydrim instrument washer

via Basics on Processing & Sterilization – Sterile & Materials Processing Department – University of Rochester Medical Center. URMC / Sterile & Materials Processing Department / Basics on Processing & Sterilization Basics on Processing & Sterilization Table of Contents Introduction Functions The Decontamination Process The Assembly & Packaging Process The Sterilization Process Quality Assurance Introduction The Sterile Processing Department (Central … Read more