Glossary

Aeration
to expose ethylene oxide gas-sterilized item to warm, circulating air to remove trace ethylene oxide.
Alkylation
a chemical term usually defined as the replacement of an available hydrogen atom within a chemical group such as the amino, carboxyl, or hydroxyl groups with an hydroxyethyl radical.
Antiseptic
a mild disinfectant used on the skin and mucuos membrane to lower the count and inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Asepsis
absence of microorganisms that cause disease; freedom of infection; exclusion of microorganisms.
Autoclave
a steam-pressure vessel that sterilizes by steam under pressure at temperature above 1000 C.
Bacillus Stereathermophillus
a highly heat-resistant, spore-forming microorganism used in form on commercially prepared spore strips for checking sterilization effectiveness in steam sterilizers.
Bacillus Subtilis
a spore-forming microorganism used in spore form on commercially prepared spore strips for checking sterilization effectiveness in ethylene oxide sterilizers.
Bactericidal
having the characteristic of destroying bacteria.
Bactereostatic
inhibiting or retarding bacterial growth.
Bioburden
the number of microorganisms with which an object is contaminated.
Biological Indicator
a device intended for use by a health care provider to accompany products being sterilized through a sterilization procedure and to monitor adequacy of sterilization. The device consists of a known number of microorganisms (usually bacterial spores), of known resistance to the mode of sterilization, in or on a carrier and enclosed in a protective package. Subsequent growth or failure of the microorganisms to grow under suitable conditions indicates the adequacy of sterilization.
Bowie-Dick Test
a test originated by J.H. Bowie and J. Dick and designed to challenge the vacuum pump in a high vacuum steam sterilizer.
Chemical Indicators
a physical/chemical device employed to monitor one or more process parameters of the sterilization cycle in order to detect failures in packaging, loading, and/or sterilizer function. The chemical indicator usually consists of a sensitive chemical or ink dye, the sensitivity of which may vary from product to product.
Contaminated
possessing infectious organisms or substances.
Decontamination
to make safe by removing or reducing contamination by infectious organisms or other harmful substances.
Disinfectant
an agent that kills all growing or vegetative forms of microorganisms, thus completely eliminating them from inanimate objects.
Disinfection
is a process capable of destroying pathogenic microorganisms but, as ordinarily used, not bacterial spores.
Ethylene Oxide (EO)
EO is a colorless, flammable gas that can be used in its 100% concentration or in compounds with such inert chemicals as Carbon Dioxide (CO2 ) or Chlorofluorohydrocarbons (CFHC). It is an alkylating agent whose reaction is primarily with nucleophilic groups: amines, alcohols, phenols, organic and inorganic acids, and water. Its biochemical reactions are with the ring nitrogens of purine and pyrimidine bases and the amino acids and proteins. EO reacts with the chlorine ion to form ethylene chlorohydrin or with water to form ethylene glycol.
Fractional Sterilization
a method of sterilization that involves alternating exposure and cooling time for a consecutive period.
Glutaraldehyde
a compound used in a aqueous solution as a disinfectant and a sterilant.
Infection
invasion of the body by pathogenic microorganisms, and the reaction of tissues.
Lumen
the open inner space of a tube, as in a blood vessel, needle, or catheter.
Microorganisms
a plant or animal visible only with microscopic magnification.
Pathogenic
producing or capable of producing disease.
Sanitation
is a process capable of reducing the number of microbial contaminants to a relatively safe level. It provides the lowest safety margin because it does not require or necessarily produce the complete destruction of any particular microorganisms.
Spores
bacteria in a dormant state.
Sporicidal
any agent with the ability to kill spores.
Saturated Steam
steam holding all the moisture it can hold and still remain a vapor.
Sterile
free of all living microorganisms.
Sterilization
is a process capable of destroying all forms of microbial life on inanimate surfaces.
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