Process and Mechanism of Action

With this method, sterilization is achieved by exposing the implant to saturated steam at 121°C. The use of steam at this temperature requires a pressure-rated sterilization chamber; a typical industrial steam sterilizer in shown in Fig. 3. The design of the implant must ensure that all surfaces are contacted by the steam, and the packaging must allow steam to penetrate freely. A typical steam sterilization process lasts 15 to 30 min after all surfaces of the implant reach a temperature of at least lire.

Steam sterilization kills microorganisms by destroying metabolic and structural components essential to their replication. The coagulation of essential enzymes and the disruption of protein and lipid complexes are the main lethal events.

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