The Cinderella Story

14 May

How a sterilization container became universal and repaired itself when damaged

Sometimes, I refer to the development of the SteriTite container as a Cinderella story. The SteriTite container designed for compatibility and sustainability continues to surprise me. If anyone missed the riddle in our last blog…Here is the answer. A snake sheds its skin and grows a new one. The SteriTite container can repair its surface seal from mild chemical damage when placed in an autoclave for an eight-minute exposure. The open pores close and the outer shell is once again as hard as a diamond or a sapphire. At Case Medical, we believe in sustainability. A reusable device should be developed for years of use and then recycled for its next use.

Once Upon a Time

In the old days, sterilization containers were expected to have indefinite shelf life and indefinite useful life. That is not realistic, but that was in the 1990’s when steam sterilization was the only sterilization method cleared for rigid reusable container use. I recollect an AAMI session where the “Queen of Wet”, a clinical expert at the time, wanted to add to the standards that sterilization containers would always be wet after processing. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; ours was dry…no absorbent liners, no extended reprocessing times, no drain needed to express the condensate. Forever wet became forever dry and set the standard for the industry. But that’s not where the story ends. Gas plasma came along and the SteriTite universal container was born.

The Shoe Fit

At the time, ASP, then a division of J&J, was searching for a container system that was compatible with their new technology. Moisture and temperature sensitive devices were introduced, and minimally invasive devices were always disinfected. Gas plasma or vaporized hydrogen peroxide changed the industry as devices formerly disinfected could now be sterilized. At the time, container systems, even metal wrapped trays, were not even planned for low temperature sterilization. No one even believed that they were compatible. Then emerged the SteriTite container, anodized and passivated, cleared by FDA for steam sterilization and it worked when no other containers could. Eventually others were cleared as well, but their anodized containers could only be used for steam! For low temperature sterilization, gas plasma, only stripped containers without an anodized seal could pass the validation. I’ve learned recently, that some of these have been taken out of service.

Reuse, Repair and Recycle

While other container systems currently on the market are designed with obsolescence in mind, SteriTite containers may not be immortal but if you follow our IFU and use our EPA Safer Choice certified instrument chemistries and handle the containers with care they can last over TWO decades and yes I mean TWO decades. Yesterday, we examined containers that came in for repair that were 18 years old. We know that is true by reading the lot number on the device and tracking it with our ERP system. Some were in poor shape, scratched and dented. Some we could fix, but nearly all had a surface seal that was maintained over years of continuous use. The answer to this story is that the account uses our SuperNova and Case Solutions cleaners for decontamination followed by a rinse. And for those containers that were not repairable, they can be recycled.
You can test the integrity of your containers utilizing a permanent marker and Case Medical's CSR ink and adhesive remover. Simply make a mark with a Sharpie, apply the CSR remover to a soft cloth, wipe, and if any mark or shadow of a mark remains; it is time to recycle.

Visit us anytime at to learn more about our products and services. We are here to help. Case Medical is a U.S. EPA SAFER CHOICE Partner or the Year for Manufacturer Formulator and recognized in NJ as Innovative Manufacturer of the Year.

Kindest Regards,

Marcia Frieze and the Case Medical team

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