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Surgical Instrument Care

Surgical Instrument Longevity Through Proper Care
Your purchase of OrthoMed, Inc. instruments represents a considerable investment.
By following these guidelines you will protect your investment and ensure many years of productive and satisfactory performance.

General Instructions

New Instruments

Newly purchased surgical instruments must be cleaned, lubricated and autoclaved immediately before use.

Correct Use

Obvious as it sounds, it bears repeating: Instruments are designed for a particular purpose and should be used only for that purpose. Even the strongest instrument can be damaged when used inappropriately, i.e., when a rongeur is used to cut wire.

Water and Stainless Steel

Ordinary tap water contains minerals that can cause discoloration and staining. Therefore, we recommend the use of distilled water for cleaning, disinfecting, sterilizing and rinsing instruments. To avoid staining, use a cleaning solution with pH near neutral (7).

Aluminum Trays

To avoid development of “aluminum salt” on your Al-trays, use only distilled water in your autoclave. Already developed “aluminum salt” is very difficult to remove which might cause damage of the anodized Al-surface. Any instrument or tray should be cleaned of debris with a non-acid detergent (neutral pH) prior to autoclaving.

Cleaning, Sterilization

Cold Sterilizing or Disinfecting

Prolonged immersion in disinfecting or sterilizing solution can damage your surgical instruments. We recommend that you do not soak your instruments for longer than 20 minutes. To render the instruments sterile and ready for use, use an autoclave cycle.
Instruments with tungsten carbide inserts, such as wire cutters, needle holders, and TC scissors, should never be immersed in sterilizing solutions containing Benzyl Ammonium Chloride (BAC). BAC will soften and dissolve the tungsten carbide.
Never use bleach as it will cause severe pitting.

Manual Cleaning and Soaking

When handling instruments, be very careful not to damage their fine tips and mechanisms. If instruments have been exposed to blood, tissue, saline or other foreign matter, you must rinse them in warm (not hot) water before these substances are allowed to dry. After rinsing, immerse them in a cleaning and disinfecting solution.

Because many compounds including certain chemicals, are highly corrosive to stainless steel, rinse and dry instruments immediately, in case they have come in contact with any potentially harmful substances.

If no ultrasonic cleaner is available, clean the instrument very carefully. Pay particular attention when cleaning boxlocks, serrations, hinges and other hard-to-reach areas. What’s more, use nylon (not steel) brushes, such as OM 39-0684, and warm (not hot) cleaning solutions. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the preparation of the cleaning solutions. Remember to change these solutions daily.

Ultrasonic Cleaning

Ultrasonic cleaning is the most effective way to clean your instruments. To maximize its effectiveness, your instruments should be cleaned of all visible debris before they are put into an ultrasonic cleaner. Please note that chrome-plated instruments may rust if they are not dried and lubricated immediately after sterilization. In addition, we recommend the following:

  • Do not mix dissimilar metals, i.e., chrome and stainless, in the same cycle.
  • Open all instruments so ratchets and boxlocks are accessible.
  • Avoid piling instruments on top of each other when loading.
  • Remove and rinse off instruments immediately after the cycle is finished.
  • Dry instruments immediately after rinsing and allow them to air-dry thoroughly.
  • Lubricate all moving parts.

Lubrication and Autoclaving

All instruments must be properly cleaned before autoclaving. Their moving parts, such as boxlocks and hinges, should be well lubricated. Be careful to use surgical lubricants and not industrial oils. Always sterilize instruments in the open, unlocked position. We recommend that instruments be wrapped in cloth and then placed in the container, or that a cloth be put on the bottom of the pan to absorb moisture. The cloth should be pH(7) neutral and have no residue of detergents. Finally, avoid sudden cooling of your instruments.

Care, Testing and Storage

Instrument Care Checklist

  • Rinse and soak soiled instruments immediately after use. Thoroughly clean before autoclaving.
  • Autoclave and sterilize instruments in an open position.
  • Do not stack or entangle instruments.
  • Follow recommendations made by equipment and solutions manufacturers.
  • Keep instruments properly lubricated.
  • Inspect instruments regularly.

Maintaining the Surface

OrthoMed, Inc. stainless steel surgical instruments are made of corrosion resistant, high-grade specialty steels that are especially selected to meet the varying requirements of cutting, clamping, retracting and chiseling.

A special characteristic of these steels is that they form passive layers on the instrument’s surface, which protect against corrosion. These layers act as an invisible patina and with repeated use and exposure to air, the instruments become increasingly corrosion resistant.

While every effort is made during the manufacturing process to ensure that instruments are corrosion resistant, the real key to longevity is proper maintenance. In that regard, you must do your part by caring for your instruments. In a sense, the “stainless steel” is a misnomer, one which should not be taken literally. When not properly treated, steel can rust or stain, reducing the life of the instrument or rendering it useless. The following sections outline proper instrument care.

Instrument Checkup

The best time to review the condition of your instruments is after they have been cleaned and lubricated and have cooled off.
Consider the following:

  • Function:Scissors must cut cleanly and close properly. Needle holders and clamps must engage properly and meet correctly at the tips.
  • Surface: Carefully inspect surfaces for any sign of staining, cracking or other irregularities.
  • Common sources of staining are:
    • Inadequate cleaning.
    • Mixing dissimilar metals.
    • Impurities in the water.
    • Unsuitable or improper preparation and usage of cleaning and disinfecting or maintenance agents
    • Non-compliance with operating procedures of cleaning and sterilizing equipment.

Storage of Instruments

Once your instruments are thoroughly dry, store them in a clean, dry environment. Never put them in areas where chemicals may emit corrosive vapors or where temperature and moisture variations could cause condensation on the instrument.

If you experience a problem, at any stage of the instrument care process, please consult your OrthoMed representative.