The following article is written by Matt Smith, marketing analyst for Healthmark Industries Co.
There are many factors to consider when using peel pouches for sterilization. You want to make sure you are using the proper products, depending on your procedure, to prevent the risk of contamination.
Some pouches are self-sealing; others must be heat-sealed. Most self-sealing pouches have a perforation or fold at the top; it is important to use this fold correctly as a guide to proper closure. In order to use them, simply peel the strip off and place in the trash. You now are ready to seal the pouch. The sterilizable adhesive strip promotes a tight, impermeable closing of the pack. The closing flap should be pre-folded to facilitate the sealing of the pouch (close and seal according to the manufacturer's instructions for use). Selecting the right size of pouch is important as well. If the pouch is too large, the objects can move around and cause damage to the pouch itself, and if too small, the pouch can be punctured or otherwise compromised.
Heat sealed pouches come in two styles: pre-cut or roll style. Pre-cut style needs only the top of the pouch to be sealed. Roll stock requires heat sealing at the top and bottom. For all pouches it is very important to ensure the heat seal extends completely across the peel pouch without a break in the strip. Heat sealing needs to be performed correctly to protect the contents in the pouch. With roll stock, you need to be sure to leave sufficient space to allow for proper opening of the package.
Hanna-Kaisa Kyyrönen, clinical specialist at Wipak Medical, recommends the heat sealing pouch. "Whenever appropriate, I would use heat sealing pouches every time I have a chance," she says. "Pouch packing is an easy and fast way to secure the integrity of a medical device. The reason I would recommend a heat sealed pouch is because you can control and verify the sealing process. Each packaging material comes with a recommended sealing temperature range and the correct temperature can be defined to each material and sealer combination. I would choose a sealer where the sealing pressure and time are constant and the sealing temperature can be controlled and monitored."
Be sure to use tip protectors on surgical instruments (that have sharp points) to prevent damage not only to the instrument but the pouch. Tip protectors are available in many different materials such as plastic, foam and silicone. Be sure to consult the manufacturer's guidelines prior to use in order to make sure you are using the proper tip protector for the instrument you are sterilizing and the tip protector can withstand that specific sterilization process.
Every product is different and some require particular types of pouches for sterilization. The type of peel pouch used must be appropriate for the sterilization method. No matter what product you are using, be sure to read the manufacturer's guidelines regarding the best practices of using that product.
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