The following are specific guidelines for
sterilizing instruments, glassware, suture materials,
and rubber latex materials.
Wash each instrument after use with an
antiseptic detergent solution. When washing by
hand, pay particular attention to hinged parts and
serrated surfaces. Rinse all instruments, and dry
Use an instrument washer/sterilizer, if available,
to decontaminate instruments and utensils
following each surgical procedure.
Following cleaning and decontamination, leave
hinged instruments unclasped and wrapped
singly or placed on trays for resterilization.
Inspect all reusable glassware for cracks or
Wash all reusable glassware with soap or
detergent and water after use, and rinse it
When preparing reusable glass syringes
match numbers or syringe parts;
wrap each plunger and barrel separately in
wrap each complete syringe in a double
When glassware, tubes, medicine glasses, and
beakers are part of a sterile tray, wrap each glass
item in gauze before placing it on the tray.
Suture Material: Suture materials are available
i n t w o m a j o r c a t e g o r i e s :
a b s o r b a b l e
a n d
nonabsorbable. Absorbable suture materials can be
digested by the tissues during the healing process.
Absorbable sutures are made from collagen (an animal
protein derived from healthy animals) or from
synthetic polymers. Nonabsorbable suture materials
are those that effectively resist the enzymatic digestion
process in living tissue. These sutures are made of
metal or other inorganic materials. In both types, each
strand of specifically sized suture material is uniform
in diameter and is predictable in performance.
Modern manufacturing processes make all suture
materials available in individual packages, presterilized,
with or without a surgical needle attached. Once
opened, do not resterilize either the individual
p a c k a g e o r a n i n d i v i d u a l s t r a n d o f s u t u r e
NOTE: The only exception to this rule
involves the use of surgical stainless steel.
This material is often provided in unsterile
packages or tubes. Individual strands or entire
packages of surgical stainless steel must be
sterilized before use.
Rubber Latex Materials:
Wash rubber tubing in an antiseptic detergent
Pay attention to the inside of the tubing. Rinse
all tubing well and place it flat or loosely
coiled in a wrapper or container.
When packing latex surgical drains for
sterilization, place a piece of gauze in the
lumen of the tray. Never resterilize surgical
Never resterilize rubber catheters bearing
a disposable label.
Never resterilize surgeons disposable
These gloves are for
one-time use only.
Handling Sterile Articles
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Recall sterile
article handling and surgical hand scrubbing
techniques, donning procedure for gowning
and gloving, and the steps to clean an
When you are changing a dressing, removing
sutures, or preparing the patient for a surgical
procedure, it will be necessary to establish a sterile
field from which to work.
The field should be
established on a stable, clean, flat, dry surface.
Wrappers from sterile articles may be used as a sterile
field as long as the inside of the wrapper remains
sterile. If the size of the wrapper does not provide a
sufficient working space for the sterile field, use a
sterile towel. Once established, only those persons
who have donned sterile gloves should touch the sterile