Use of a Pressure Cooker to Achieve Sterilization for an Expeditionary Environment


Cook RK, McDaniel J, Pelaez M, Beltran T, Webb O 21(1). 37 - 39 (Journal Article)

Background: Sterilization of healthcare instruments in an expeditionary environment presents a myriad of challenges including portability, cost, and sufficient electrical power. Using pressure cookers to sterilize instruments presents a low-cost option for sterilization in prehospital settings. This project's objective was to determine if sterility can be achieved using a commercially available pressure cooker. Methods: Presto® 4-quart stainless steel pressure cookers were heated using Cuisinart® CB-30 cast-iron single burners. One 3M™ Attest™ 1292 Rapid Readout Biological Indicator and one 3M™ Comply™ SteriGage™ integrator strip were sealed in a Henry Schein® Sterilization Pouch and placed in a pressure cooker and brought to a pressure of 103.4kPa. Sterility was verified after 20 minutes at pressure. The Attest vials were incubated in a 3M Attest 290 Auto-Reader for 3 hours with a control vial. Results: Sterility using the pressure cooker was achieved in all tested bags, integrator strips, and Attest vials (n = 128). The mean time to achieve the necessary 103.4kPa was 379 seconds (standard deviation (SD) = 77). Neither the ambient temperature nor humidity were found to affect the pressure cooker's time to achieve adequate pressure, nor the achieved depth on the integrator strip (all p > .05). Conclusion: This study provides evidence that sterilization is possible with offthe- shelf pressure cookers. Though lacking US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, the use of this commercially available pressure cooker may provide a method of sterilization requiring minimal resources from providers working in expeditionary environments.

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