Radiation Sterilization of Medical Devices – today drapes, gowns, surgical gloves, scalpels and prosthetic implants are among the medical devices routinely sterilised by radiation sterilisation.
In the 1950’s the replacement of re-usable devices by single-use devices was made possible by the availability of affordable polymers. As these new materials could not withstand the high temperatures of traditional heat sterilization, it was necessary to use a ‘cold’ processes. Gamma irradiation using a Cobalt-60 source provided the required penetration and characteristics and became a leading sterilisation modality. Today electron beam and X-ray technologies offer alternatives but to date these technologies are not widely used to sterilise medical devices.