Surgical Instrument Repair and Maintenance – A Step-By-Step Guide


To reduce hospital-acquired infections and increase patient safety, everyone in the healthcare workforce needs to be familiar with surgical instrument care.

Performing surgical instrument repair & maintenance Houston, TX, will not only improve surgeon satisfaction but also lower the cost of repairs and replacements. This will ultimately decrease hospital liability.

Inspect the Instruments

Before using an instrument, a thorough inspection should be made to ensure the device is functioning properly. A complete inspection includes checking box locks, tips, ratchets, and cutting edges for cleanliness and functionality.

Inspecting instruments before use will prevent problems, such as improper functioning or failure to meet hospital standards. This will also reduce the risk of cross-contamination during reprocessing.

Surgical instruments are delicate and should not be used for any purpose other than their intended function. Incorrectly used instruments can lead to damage that is usually not repairable.

Clean the Instruments

Instruments should be cleaned and decontaminated before they are used on a patient. Failure to do so can result in cross-contamination and surgical site infections.

In the case of special instruments such as laparoscopic scissors, gouges, and drills, this is an especially critical process to ensure patient and staff safety. The care of these instruments must be done in a manner consistent with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Manually cleaning an instrument involves soaking the device in tepid water or a detergent bath until all soil is softened. The duration of the soak will depend on how much soil is on the instrument and how long it has been stored after use.

Ultrasonic cleaning effectively removes soil particles from instruments’ more difficult-to-clean areas. This is due to how ultrasonic waves break up the soil and ‘kick’ it off the surface.

After ultrasonic cleaning, the instruments should be rinsed thoroughly with sterile water and dried with an approved lubricant. This lubricant should be formulated to avoid clogging the instrument and interfering with steam sterilization.

Lubricate the Instruments

Surgical instruments require lubrication during operation to decrease friction between the working surfaces. A lubricant can also protect instruments from rust and corrosion.

The technique of lubricating an instrument, according to the present invention, includes the application of a mist or stream of a liquid lubricating composition onto at least a hinge portion of the instrument. The composition may be in the form of a liquid, gel, paste, or solid.

It is dispensed into a spray applicator, such as a trigger sprayer, pressure sprayer, or any other convenient device. The lubricating composition may be sprayed onto the instrument by hand or other equipment, or a brush can be applied to the hinge portion.

Surgical instrument lubricants can be either water-soluble or oil-based and should be based on medical-grade white oils. These products must be steam sterilizable and steam penetrable.


A well-organized instrument storage system can ensure the right instruments are in the right place at the right time. The wrong or missing instruments can significantly impact case flow, leading to frustration and delays in the operating room.

Storing the instruments in a clean and dry area is critical for the performance of the equipment. If instruments are not stored in a sterile environment, the residues from surgical procedures can cause staining or pitting, which can affect the instrument’s functionality.

According to national and international infection control guidelines, reusable medical equipment reprocessing should commence as soon as possible after surgery. To evaluate whether residual protein or corrosion is associated with storage environment (dry or humid), holding time, or a number of treatment cycles, surgical instruments were reprocessed after 6, 12, and 24 h in either dry or humid conditions.

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