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Residual tissue contamination on surgical instruments is a growing concern in the healthcare industries. Decontamination means that the proteinacious debris following microbial death during sterilization is also removed from device surfaces. This has important implications in the reduction of inflammatory responses of implantable medical devices. The body’s immune system responds to non-infectious contamination causing a severe inflammation that can lead to cell death.
With the advent of highly sensitive protein detection technologies it has recently become evident that traditional hospital decontamination and sterilization methods are not entirely effective at removing transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) infective agent. Decontamination of a range of “in-use” stainless steel surgical instruments retained protein contaminants after several cleaning cycles. No retention of contamination was evident on the surfaces of instruments that were subjected to gas-plasma cleaning.