Ultrasonic Cleaning Delicate Surgical Instruments

A silicon nap mat for an ultrasonic cleaner
A silicon nap mat for an ultrasonic cleaner

 Ultrasonic cavitation is a proven technique for removing contaminants from surgical instruments prior to disinfecting or sterilizing steps.   This is accomplished in an ultrasonic cleaner when microscopic bubbles created by the unit’s ultrasonic transducers implode on contact with surgical tools.  The process effectively strips away blood, tissue and other deposits resulting from surgical procedures.

Balancing Ultrasonic Cleaner Frequency with Cleaning Effectiveness

Higher frequency ultrasonic cleaners operating at 80 to 130 kHz are often used for delicate or highly polished parts in order to avoid potential damage caused by the imploding bubbles.  Higher frequencies equate to smaller bubbles, which while safe for delicate parts are less effective in removing gross contaminants associated with microsurgery instruments.  Instead, an ultrasonic cleaner operating at 37 kHz such as the Elmasonic Select series available from Tovatech is generally recommended for surgical instrument cleaning.

There are, however, instances where extremely delicate surgical instruments and microsurgery instruments can be damaged by vibration against the stainless steel mesh basket during ultrasonic cleaning.  Examples are fine-tipped instruments used by ophthalmologists.

To avoid potential damage a silicon nap mat should be placed in the ultrasonic cleaner basket and the instruments positioned carefully on the mat nap in such a way that they do not come in contact with each other.   The mats, also available from Tovatech, can be cut with scissors to fit the size of the basket.  They are designed to allow the ultrasonic cleaning solution to flow freely over the surfaces of the instruments as cavitation does its scrubbing work.

At the end of the cleaning cycle remove, inspect and rinse the instruments according to your internal operating procedures, then proceed to the sterilizing steps.  

Contact the scientists at Tovatech for expert advice on ultrasonic cleaning systems and accessories for surgical instrument cleaning.

About Bob Sandor

Bob began working as a chemist in 1987 and remains a science geek to this day. After his PhD he worked on the bench in materials and inorganic chemistry for 10 years. He then took on a love for marketing and sales. He combined his passion for science and business and took entrepreneur general management positions in large corporations like Hoecsht Celanese now Sanofi Aventis, Bel-Art and Smiths Detection. There he learned what it would take to run a business and finally Tovatech was co-founded in 2006. Bob’s hobbies include playing, listening and composing music, skiing, working out, the internet and all things science. Read More