Essential thinking

Endotoxins and how they impact wipes

09 Oct 2015

Posted by John Corley

Sterilization table

As a pharmaceutical technician, nurse, or medical specialist, you likely use gamma radiation or a disinfectant to kill harmful microorganisms before they can affect your patients. Surprisingly, the sterilization process isn’t complete at that point.
Did you know there are leftover contaminants that can cause problems even after routine sterilization? Known as endotoxins, these insidious compounds are the dead remnants of microorganisms and will adhere to disinfecting wipes. Endotoxins can be spread onto other surfaces via the disinfecting wipe. So, what problems do endotoxins cause and is there a solution?  

Endotoxins and How They Impact WipesThe Problem: Flu-Like Symptoms
Problems relating to endotoxins are most notable in patients receiving injections in the spinal column, such as a spinal epidural. When released into spinal fluids, endotoxins can cause uncomfortable flu-like symptoms. Sometimes patients only experience a fever. Other times, symptoms are worse and can include nausea, shortness of breath and coughing. For a laboring mother or a patient undergoing surgery, these symptoms can interfere both with medical procedures and patient recovery.

The Solution: Low Endotoxin Sterilized Wipes
As a member of a clinic's medical staff, you may wonder what you can do to eliminate the adverse effects of endotoxins. The solution lies in how you sterilize medical equipment. Endotoxins cannot be completely eradicated, but their number can be limited. For noninvasive equipment, an endotoxin level of 20 EU (endotoxin units) is considered safe. For invasive equipment, an endotoxin level of 0.5 EU is acceptable. There are only a few sterilized wipes in the industry that reach these high standards.

Essentra Porous Technologies has created and tested numerous materials for use in sterilizing medical equipment. Through our studies, we’ve have determined that natural materials are less effective than man-made materials in limiting the number of endotoxins spread by wipes. Our newest product – the 7220 VS – is a specialized knitted polyester that greatly reduces endotoxins. We also have a variety of sterilized wipes to suit each medical application. Contact an Essentra specialist today to find the right product for your clinic.