It is a type of chemical sterilization based on the use of a sterilizing agent named ethylene oxide. This method has been used in the medical area for more than 60 years. Moreover, the ethylene oxide sterilization is recommended as an alternative for those elements that cannot be sterilized by the traditional techniques of heat and/or vapor.
Up to present no other technology has been able to offer better features than the sterilization by ethylene oxide. Consequently it is still considered the best choice to sterilize heat-sensitive elements.
As a result of the development of new raw materials and products a lot of new techniques and procedures, a great deal of new drugs and several instruments of internal and external use have been produced with non traditional heat-sensitive materials. One of the activities beneffited by this trend is the medical field.
In view of that, the sterilization processes had to be updated to keep up with the development of new elements for medical use and to satisfy the needs of the medical industry as well as the health institutions.
In addition to the traditional techniques of dry heat sterilizers and steam autoclaves, low-temperature sterilization methods were required, such as: radiation of gamma rays and the chemical sterilization by ethylene oxide. This last method is known as cold sterilization since it works with temperatures lower than 60 degrees.
In this way this method allows to sterilize those elements that should be discarded because they can not be recyclable with maximum safety and guarantee required by Health care organizations, or because the heat may damage them or reduce its useful life.