22 Jun Do hospitals need ultrasonic cleaners?
It seems only appropriate to begin Ralsonics’ blog with hospital ultrasonic cleaners considering this is the first product made by Ralsonics when it started manufacturing in 1973.
We must begin by asking the most important question. It seems only appropriate to begin Ralsonics’ blog with hospital ultrasonic cleaners considering this is the first product made by Ralsonics when it started manufacturing in 1973.
We must begin by asking the most important question.
Why do hospitals really need ultrasonic cleaners?
1. Convenience and efficiency
We live in the modern age. Automation is no longer just a buzzword. It is a part of every aspect of our life. The same way washing machines have replaced our traditional dhobis, ultrasonic cleaners help eliminate the manual effort in cleaning used instruments and parts.
This is true in both large hospitals as well as small clinics. In hospitals which have a number of surgeries and procedures occurring on a daily basis, ultrasonic cleaners help automate the cleaning. In private clinics with less manpower available, ultrasonic cleaners help complete the cleaning activities with minimal manual intervention.
2. Safety of operators and patients
Pandemic Covid-19 has brought infection spread into the limelight. The unprecedented load on healthcare facilities has made people aware of the inadequate healthcare infrastructure in place throughout the world to handle infectious diseases.
Since the source of the infection is patients themselves, the first level of safety begins with proper sterilization of instruments used on them. Hospital staff who are in charge of sterilization of instruments are at a huge risk and also the biggest potential carriers of the infection. Why is that? Because, before sterilization the instruments have to be cleaned. This is commonly done by hand scrubbing using brushes. Hand scrubbing contaminated instruments is not safe for two reasons. Firstly, considering that most of these instruments have sharp ends, it is very easy to cut yourself and ensure that the infection enters your own bloodstream (yikes!). Secondly, vigorously handling these instruments with your own hand exposes you to the risk of contracting the infection from the instruments.
Enter ultrasonic cleaning. With ultrasonic cleaning, the entire pre-sterilization cleaning process is fully automated.
To ensure the safety and well-being of hospital staff, ultrasonic cleaners are highly recommended. The best hospitals in the world use ultrasonic cleaners for their pre-sterilization cleaning.
3. Cleaning of suction tubes
Due to the narrow diameter of these tubes, cleaning them manually is a unique challenge. The insides of these tubes are inaccessible. Commonly used methods include flushing and suction cleaning. However, after interviews with a number of established doctors we concluded that they find this technique ineffective for 100% cleaning.
With ultrasonic cleaners, the insides of these suction tubes can be easily and effectively cleaned to 100% level since ultrasonics relies on contact of the cleaning liquid with the tubes. In fact, similar tubes of much larger length used in the nuclear industry are routinely cleaned by ultrasonics.
4. Superior technology to steam cleaning
But what did we use before these ultrasonic cleaners were discovered? Did everyone scrub instruments by hand?
The answer is no. A common method used in the past was steam cleaning. However, using hot steam has its disadvantages.
Firstly, unlike ultrasonics, steam cannot reach every nook and cranny of intricate instruments. The blind holes, the little cavities, the hinged structures, plungers, none of those can be cleaned effectively by steam. The reason for this is that steam cleaning is a line of sight technology. It will only be effective where the steam comes in contact with the parts.
Ultrasonic cleaning will take place wherever liquid is contact with the instrument. Since the instrument is fully immersed in an ultrasonic tank, small holes, blind zones, tiny crevices and other hard to reach regions can be easily cleaned. All sorts of intricate instruments must be cleaned by ultrasonics.
Secondly, since the temperatures used in steam cleaning are high, some instruments like fiber optics can face heat damage. Ultrasonic cleaning is a very gentle cleaning technique which ensures complete safety of the instruments used.
Using ultrasonic cleaning ensures that your instruments work smoothly after cleaning and even the invisible parts of your instrument are adequately cleaned.
5. Specific applications for dentists
Ultrasonics for dentistry is close to my heart (literally). My wife is a dental surgeon and she has provided me first hand inputs on this section.
Dentists need a better technique for getting rid of cement. Furthermore, cleaning of crowns and dentures is a very cumbersome process when done manually.
With a small ultrasonic cleaner all of these problems can be gotten rid off very easily. Cleaning can be done in seconds and more effectively as well.
5. Additional applications for ophthalmologists
Glasses and contact lenses are too delicate to clean manually while broken glasses and contact lenses are too expensive to take lightly.
With ultrasonic cleaners, these tiny, delicate objects are safely and thoroughly cleaned.
6. How does ultrasonic cleaning work?
Ultrasonic cleaners are Class I medical devices that ensure efficient removal of contaminants.
It is like a tub (made up of stainless steel) filled with the cleaning liquid. The ultrasonics producing part is attached outside this tub.
Ultrasonic cleaning relies on the production of high frequency sound waves i.e. having frequency greater than 20 kHz in the cleaning liquid. For those of you who are wondering, that is just outside the limit of human hearing range.
When such high frequency sound waves travel in a liquid, they produce microbubbles, commonly known as cavitation.
Millions of such bubbles are produced by ultrasonic cleaners. The bubbles are typically filled with the vapors of the cleaning liquid. However, with effective ultrasonic cleaners, most of these bubbles will be vacuum bubbles. These bubbles grow in size and then implode. The implosions produce micro-regions of very high energy. This energy blasts off the contamination from the instruments.
This mechanism ensures fully automatic cleaning of instruments placed inside an ultrasonic cleaner.