Rigid containers vs. wrapped instrument trays: Which offers better protection from bacteria?

When compared to rigid containers, wrapped instrument trays were better at preventing bacterial ingress into a sterilized tray, according to a study in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers tested 111 rigid containers that were either unused, used for less than five years or used from five to nine years, as well as 161 wrapped trays using three grades of sterilization wrap. They subjected the trays to aerosolized Micrococcus luteus and air volume exchanges to simulate what happens during sterilization, transportation and storage of the instrument trays.

Three findings from the study are:

  1. Both used and unused rigid containers did not maintain barrier performance: 97 of the 111 containers (87 percent) had bacterial ingress into the container
  2. Older rigid containers were significantly more likely to demonstrate bacterial ingress than those that were unused, implying that they may become less effective over time
  3. None of the wrapped trays demonstrated bacterial ingress during the test

"In this study using a dynamic bacterial aerosol challenge, sterilized wrapped trays demonstrated significantly greater protection than sterilized rigid containers against the ingress of airborne bacteria," the study concludes.


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