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Old 01-15-2012, 07:02 PM
 
4 posts, read 22,458 times
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I'm putting together a first aid kid for preparedness and I'm going to include some medical instruments for minor surgery/wound repair. I'm looking for the best method of sterilizing and protecting them in the kit.

I've read about using a pressure cooker to sterilize things like scissors and clamps instead of an expensive autoclave. Has anyone ever tried using the available sterilization pouches with a pressure cooker? Do they stand up in there like they do in an autoclave?

I would think that as long as you keep them out of contact with the water itself, they ought to be fine -- just looking for anyone with experience.

Thanks!

Jim
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Old 01-15-2012, 07:13 PM
 
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I've not tried it but no reason it should not work. I actually know someone who cans meats using an autoclave. An autoclave is just a big pressure cooker but will do the job in a fraction of the time of a pressure cooker.

I suspect one could also use the oven to dry sterilize though you would be looking at 1-2 hours at about 320 degrees.

page 3 at this ADA link has some info:
http://www.ada.org/sections/professi...rilization.pdf

Last edited by lifelongMOgal; 01-15-2012 at 07:23 PM..
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Old 01-15-2012, 07:15 PM
 
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Soak in Hibiclens and dry. Works.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:51 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
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Most scalpels, etc come in bubble-wrap already sterilized. If you keep your kit clean and dry, you shouldn't have to sterize them unless you plan on reusing them. Scalpels grow duller with use, so buying sterile replacement blades is recommended. They and the little sterile packages of needles and 'catgut' or dissolving stitches also come in sterile packs. All of them are fairly cheap.

Boiling instruments in water for 10 minutes used to be a fairly efficient way of sterilization. Unfortunately they would also pick up germs and bacteria from the hands that grasped them or the towels they were laid on; so having gloves and single-packaged sterile towels/bandages are a must, as well as tongs or forceps (Boil the grasping ends too) to remove them from the boiling water.
The Hibiclens is good to have around, not just for washing instruments but washing you, if your hands need to be sterile.

You'd be surprised how often you don't need sterility; usually the only concern is a clean bandage unless the body part has to be cut free or is burned. I have delivered babies with 'sterile' packs; about the only thing that I felt needed to be sterile was the scalpel for cutting the cord. Everything else was sterile-optional. Rarely in an emergency - especially an emergency far from an operating room or a TV set - does 'sterile' come into play, except in bandaging a wound or a burn situation. Your ABC's - airway, breathing, circulation - and bleedout are your usual primary concerns. Be prepared for anything - but don't overthink, or overload your kit with handfuls of items you might only need once, if at all.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:38 PM
 
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Double wrap your whole kit and drop it into the boiling water for 20-30 minutes. Use something to keep it off the bottom of the pan. Or take it to your veterinarian and ask them to autoclave it for you. Any vet that does surgery will have a small one, and I'm sure if you came up with a good enough story, they would do it for you, maybe for a small fee.
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:24 AM
 
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Thanks for the replies!

I want to have a few minor surgery basics ready to go -- whether I'm away from home or an emergency hits. I'm not going to overload the portable kit, but I also don't want a tragedy for the lack of something simple like a suture or a clamp. Although I realize in an emergency, "sterile" is a secondary consideration, if I can reduce the chance of a secondary infection - particularly in a remote or long-term emergency situation - then I figure it'ls worth a little effort up front.

I'm going to give the sterile pouches a go in the pressure cooker and see how they turn out.
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:56 AM
 
Location: SWUS
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"Sterile" would be pretty much impossible to achieve in that kind of situation, you're gonna get particles and stuff as soon as whatever it is you're using is opened or touches a surface or is touched by something else. Your best bet would be to have multiple blades for scalpels and such, and maybe only re-use them once or twice if at all. To sanitize things as much as possible, particularly things that could be useful, like clamps, scissors, blades, needles, etc. boil them in water for long periods of time, or bleach.

Another good idea is to keep lots of "prep" items on hand, like iodine, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, swabs, q-tips, dressings, etc.

People confuse sterilization with sanitizing or disinfecting- Sterilization implies that you can get rid of EVERYTHING, sanitizing/disinfecting may not get rid of EVERYTHING but still kill most of the little nasties.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:14 AM
 
3,252 posts, read 3,065,178 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by navy87guy View Post
I'm putting together a first aid kid for preparedness and I'm going to include some medical instruments for minor surgery/wound repair. I'm looking for the best method of sterilizing and protecting them in the kit.

I've read about using a pressure cooker to sterilize things like scissors and clamps instead of an expensive autoclave. Has anyone ever tried using the available sterilization pouches with a pressure cooker? Do they stand up in there like they do in an autoclave?

I would think that as long as you keep them out of contact with the water itself, they ought to be fine -- just looking for anyone with experience.

Thanks!

Jim
-------------------------------------------------------------------

You can get a used autoclave for less than $300... not exactly a fortune. I keep one around, because I am a packrat.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:48 AM
 
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Boil in a clean pan and vacuum seal in food pouches with a shot of isopropyl alcohol. Your not doing brain surgery with a first aid kit.
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Old 01-17-2012, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
33,788 posts, read 29,215,017 times
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A pressure cooker is an autoclave. Instruments can also be stirelized with Tincture of Iodine, Chlorine bleach and 151 proof rum. That latter can also help the care giver with nerves if applied internally in judicious amounts.
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