Instruments are an important part of practice equipment. Careful maintenance and professional handling will ensure that one enjoys the instruments over several years.
All common forceps, sheers, scalpels, tweezers and eight angular instruments in medical foot care are made of almost only stainless steel (rust-free – stainless steel – Inox) today.
Many believe erroneously that stainless steel is a durable and long lasting material. But instruments made of stainless steel are subjected to various possible attacks (physical, thermal, chemical). With inadequate care, steels are only to a certain extent resistant against attacks of chloride ions (aggressive waters). Through chloride ions, pitting (pitting corrosion) as also stress cracks (corrosion) may especially result. Here, there is great danger particularly from water, in which large amounts of common salt (sodium chloride) are often dissolved.
What requires special attention?
1. Disinfection and cleaning
Danger of rusting is a given. Please see that there are no nickel or chromium instruments in wet disinfection! Although we have a good quality of drinking water nowadays, it is possible that there is a high concentration of ingredients; it might lead to instruments getting damaged with the disinfection and cleaning. Too many pollutants in the water (sodium chloride) accelerate the formation of pitting. It is therefore advisable to use fully de-mineralized water, i.e., distilled water.
Instruments should preferably be disinfected and cleaned immediately after use to avoid the drying of contaminants. Mostly a combination of disinfectants and cleaning agents is used. The manufacturer’s instructions on exposure time and concentration must be particularly paid attention to.
Important: After removing instruments from the wet disinfection, they must be carefully dried.
2. Ultrasonic cleaning
For cleaning in ultrasonic bath, instruments must be stored open in special screen baskets. The cleaning solution must be regularly changed as per the manufacturer’s specifications! Basically the ultrasonic cleaned instruments must subsequently be subject to an intensive cleaning with clear water, preferably with de-mineralised water (distilled water).
Important: The instruments must be carefully dried after cleaning!
The application of lubricants must be understood under the aspect of care. We recommend the care spray “InstruCare” (Berchtold Art.No. 2406) on all hinges and movable parts (forceps and scissor joints). This prevents metallic abrasion, for example, which can result in corrosion. In addition to its excellent lubrication properties (synthetic oil does not resinify), oil has a water-resistant effect (displacing), should any remaining moisture be present.
4. Instruments and hot-air steriliser
Care must be taken that the sterilization temperature is kept at 180°C. When the temperature is exceeded there is a threat of softening or the instruments may become discoloured. Note that temperatures arise in the sterilizer which generate stresses in steel (heat expands). To prevent stress corrosion, instruments with caps must only be sterilized open.
Pay attention to the fact that while opening the hot-air sterilizer, the sweating effect (warm on the inside, cold on the outside) is not in the form of steam clouds on the instruments. Danger of rusting! Let the instruments cool down well always. Brand new instruments must basically be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized from the first use, if not sterilely packaged. The same applies to instruments which are for repair in the workshop.
5. Corrosion and surface changes
Some certainly were already annoyed over discoloured, rust stained instruments. Discoloured surfaces are often described as rusty. One particularly finds this on areas of the instruments that are hardly accessible, for example, scalpel handles with interchangeable blades, behind springs of the forceps, in the hinges of forceps and shears. It can be caused by surface impurities or by cleaning solutions which were used often.
Even when instruments are left for a long time in the disinfectant solution and not thoroughly rinsed, impurities are fired during the subsequent sterilization process and they change to a dark colour. This may lead to rust (pitting) over time. In order to prevent surface corrosion, one should do away with strong acidic and alkaline cleaners as far as possible.
6. Instruments damaged on the surface
Rust-free instruments in flawless conditions must not come in contact at any phase with instruments with damaged surfaces (for example, old stocks and instruments with chipped nickel or chromium layer). In order to avoid such resulting contact corrosion, faulty instruments must be discarded.