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Vol. 71, No. 3
ISSN: 1488-2159
March 2005


Resterilization of Instruments Used in a Hospital-based Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic


• Nicholas J.V. Hogg, MSc, DDS •
• Archibald D. Morrison, DDS, MSc, FRCD(C) •

A b s t r a c t

Objective: The transmission of pathogens from one patient to another via contaminated devices has been a high profile issue in infection control. Although single-use devices have been promoted as a preventative strategy, resterilization of instruments has been a common practice in dentistry. The purpose of this study was to investigate the rate of bacterial contamination of instruments resterilized for use in oral and maxillofacial procedures in a hospital-based clinic.

Methods: The experiment was a prospective randomized controlled study. The test group consisted of burs that had been used in surgical procedures. These burs were grossly debrided before being cleaned and gas sterilized in the central sterilizing department of the hospital. The burs were transferred in a sterile fashion into a culture medium selected to grow oral bacteria. The control group comprised new unused instruments treated in an identical fashion before culturing. All burs were incubated and monitored daily for 72 h.

Results: The rate of bacterial contamination in the test groups was significantly higher than in the control group (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Reuse of instruments can be cost-effective if the safety of patients can be assured; however, there is increasing evidence that the sterilization process may not be completely effective. Consideration should be given to the classification of certain types of dental burs as single-use devices if sterilization cannot be guaranteed.


MeSH Key Words: cross infection/prevention & control; dental instruments; disinfection methods; equipment reuse
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