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Summary of Methods of Sterilization :-

1. Ionizing Radiation
Sterilization by ionizing radiation, primarily by cobalt 60 gamma rays or electron accelerators, is a low-temperature sterilization method that has been used for a number of medical products (e.g., tissue for transplantation, pharmaceuticals, medical devices). There are no FDA-cleared ionizing radiation sterilization processes for use in healthcare facilities. Because of high sterilization costs, this method is an unfavorable alternative to ETO and plasma sterilization in healthcare facilities but is suitable for large-scale sterilization. Some deleterious effects on patient-care equipment associated with gamma radiation include induced oxidation in polyethylene 915 and delamination and cracking in polyethylene knee bearings916. Several reviews 917, 918 dealing with the sources, effects, and application of ionizing radiation may be referred to for more detail.

2. Dry-Heat Sterilizers

This method should be used only for materials that might be damaged by moist heat or that are impenetrable to moist heat (e.g., powders, petroleum products, sharp instruments). The advantages for dry heat include the following: it is nontoxic and does not harm the environment; a dry heat cabinet is easy to install and has relatively low operating costs; it penetrates materials; and it is noncorrosive for metal and sharp instruments. The disadvantages for dry heat are the slow rate of heat penetration and microbial killing makes this a time-consuming method. In addition, the high temperatures are not suitable for most materials919. The most common time-temperature relationships for sterilization with hot air sterilizers are 170°C (340°F) for 60 minutes, 160°C (320°F) for 120 minutes, and 150°C (300°F) for 150 minutes. B. atrophaeus spores should be used to monitor the sterilization process for dry heat because they are more resistant to dry heat than are G. stearothermophilus spores. The primary lethal process is considered to be oxidation of cell constituents.

3. Liquid Chemicals
Several FDA-cleared liquid chemical sterilants include indications for sterilization of medical devices (Tables 4 and 5)69. The indicated contact times range from 3 hours to 12 hours. However, except for a few of the products, the contact time is based only on the conditions to pass the AOAC Sporicidal Test as a sterilant and not on simulated use testing with devices. These solutions are commonly used as high-level disinfectants when a shorter processing time is required. Generally, chemical liquid sterilants cannot be monitored using a biological indicator to verify sterility

4. Filtration
Although filtration is not a lethality-based process and is not an FDA-cleared sterilization method, this technology is used to remove bacteria from thermolabile pharmaceutical fluids that cannot be purified by any other means. In order to remove bacteria, the membrane pore size (e.g., 0.22 mm) must be smaller than the bacteria and uniform throughout923. Some investigators have appropriately questioned whether the removal of microorganisms by filtration really is a sterilization method because of slight bacterial passage through filters, viral passage through filters, and transference of the sterile filtrate into the final container under aseptic conditions entail a risk of contamination