Review Notes DETAILS
Ethylene oxide is a flammable and explosive colorless gas used for sterilization of medical equipment and devices that are heat and moisture sensitive
Ethylene oxide kills microorganisms through a process known as alkylation
Alkylation takes place in a special chamber into which ethylene oxide is pumped
After the medical device has been sterilized with the ethylene oxide gas, the device must be aerated to get rid of any residual gas or leftover EtO
- Only after aeration can EtO sterilized devices be considered safe to handle by personnel and for patient use.
- EtO is toxic and can cause cancer (carcinogenic)
- Even though the sterilization process takes approximately 2 ½ hours, the aeration process is time consuming and can significantly add to the total time required for sterilization.
It is recommended that EtO sterilized instruments be aerated for at least 12 hours at 122 degrees F
Ethylene Oxide sterilizer are operated in well ventilated rooms with 10 air exchanges per hour
Cartridges containing EtO should be stored in storage cabinet with flammable liquid
The exposure of any person to ethylene oxide must be reported ASAP to emergency department for evaluation
Items to be sterilized in ethylene oxide must be dry to avoid ineffective sterilization
Items prohibited for sterilization by EtO include: Leather, devices with energy source and liquids.
EtO is compatible with packaging materials such as: Tyvek, paper/plastic, polypropylene and many others.
The following materials SHOULD NOT be used as packaging material for EtO:
polyester, aluminum foil, nylon and plastic films Styrofoam
Items that will be sterilized with EtO are:
electrical components, plastics, gauze and cardboard