Hygiene, disinfecting and sterilizing are elements that are part and parcel of various scientific occupations. The importance of these elements cannot be stressed enough. Various equipment such as an autoclave is normally used to achieve these elements.
What is an autoclave?
An autoclave is a pressurized device that is used to sterilize equipment. This device in its function kills all kinds of bacteria such as fungi, spore forms, viruses and any agent that can transmit bacteria to liquids and equipment in use.
It comes in various shapes and sizes depending on the scope of use and reason for purchase.
Functionality- How it works
An autoclave kills bacteria by the use of heat and pressure. When equipment or objects are placed in an autoclave, extreme heat (121 degree c) and a blast of pressure are applied in the autoclave chamber and any bacteria exposed at the time is killed and cleared. The contaminated objects are exposed for a certain time that will depend on the size and load put inside the chamber.
Importance of Autoclaves in the Medical Field
Hospitals, laboratories and nursing homes cannot work without professional autoclaves; the need to sterilize instruments in such environments is continuous and critical.
Some equipment such as injectors, blades and forceps are intended for singular use while others are designed for reuse. For such equipment, autoclaves are the only way to ensure people interacting with the medical equipment are not at risk of infection. In third-world countries, the chances of re-using equipment are higher, making autoclaves very important in ensuring safe treatment and care giving.
Medical waste should also be sterilized before disposal to ensure no one else gets infected after disposal. In this case, autoclaving is used as a sterilization method. It has become very popular because it is environmentally friendly in application.
Different Types of Autoclaves
There are different types of autoclaves. There is a simple autoclave which can be compared to a basic pressure cooker especially in appearance. It is a large pot with a lid that can be sealed onto the pot. This autoclave does the basic function of ensuring high temperature and pressure to kill the germs. It is mostly used in beauty parlors and school labs but can also be applied to a lesser extent in research laboratories.
In bigger establishments such as hospitals, there are bigger autoclaves that will cater to the demand and size of equipment being sterilized.
In terms of functionality, there is the positive pressure displacement autoclave and the negative displacement autoclave. They both work with pressure but the negative autoclaves expel all the air from the autoclave chamber while the positive one leaves the air in, builds up enough steam and then displaces it.
Industries that use Autoclaves
The use of autoclaves can be applied to various industries that need equipment sterilization. The various professionals that would apply the use of the equipment include doctors, nurses, surgeons, beauticians and dentists.
To achieve full sterilization, the use of autoclaves is necessary. Basic sterilization methods such as boiling water, alcohol or chemical solutions are not enough to keep infections away.