Ethylene Oxide [EO/EtO]
Ethylene oxide is one of the most versatile sterilization methodologies as there are a number of variables that can be controlled and altered to derive a highly efficient bespoke cycle, sterilizing a wide range of extremely complex medical devices. Ethylene oxide sterilization is commonly used to disinfect medical devices and heat-sensitive equipment. By exposing items to ethylene oxide gas, it eliminates bacteria, viruses, and spores, making it valuable for materials that can't endure steam sterilization's high temperatures. Ethylene oxide can penetrate packaging and intricate surfaces, ensuring the sterility of medical products. However, its flammable and carcinogenic properties demand careful handling and stringent safety protocols during use.
How Is EO Sterilization Performed?
Ethylene oxide sterilization involves three main stages: preconditioning (to warm and humidify the load), sterilization (where the ethylene oxide is injected and held for the required length of time) and de-gas (where heat is used to drive the ethylene oxide and by-products from the devices).
Why Is EO Used?
Ethylene oxide (EO/ETO) is used to treat heat-sensitive products, those that are degradable by radiation methods, and complex devices or kits with long lumens.
What Industries Utilize EO Sterilization?
Due to its carcinogenic and explosive properties - which require the employment of special health, safety and emissions controls to ensure its safe use - ethylene oxide sterilization is generally performed by third-party contract sterilizers.
How Long Are EO Sterilization Cycles?
EO is carcinogenic and EO sterilization is a time-consuming process with lengthy cycle times .
What Dictates If EO Sterilization Can Be Used?
EO has the ability to penetrate packaging and can be used for heat or moisture sensitive environments. EO can be used on a variety of materials without distortion and functionality disruption
Which Materials Work Best With EO Sterilization?
Considerations involved in this type of sterilization stem from the device's complexity, where the ability to drive the gas into and out of the packaging and product is paramount to heat and radiation-sensitive components.