The process of developing and constructing a packaging system for terminally sterilized medical devices is a convoluted and pressing endeavor. The definitive nature of the medical device, the intended sterilization methods, the intended use, expiration date, transport, and storage all influence the packaging system design and choice of materials. The combination of the medical device and the packaging system should perform efficiently, safely, and adequately in the end-user’s hands.
One of the most popular methods of sterilization of medical devices is through exposure to Ethylene Oxide gas (EtO/EO). The gas is an alkaline agent that infiltrates packaged medical devices to kill microorganisms and thus achieve sterilization. EtO is toxic and flammable/explosive at low temperatures (flash point of -20°C) and so is used on products that could get damaged or cannot withstand high temperature processes. Typically the process is applied on:
Due to its reactive nature the actual EtO process must occur within enclosed chambers to prevent leaks and exposure to the ethylene oxide gas. Also EtO Sterilization is a lengthier process than other methods such as Gamma as it involves three stages:
Tests conducted on EtO sterilized Medical Device are inclusive of but not limited to: