Prion test for autoclaves
What is it and why is it important?
All healthcare facilities are required to follow strict sterilisation procedures to protect operators and patients from pathogens that cause communicable diseases.
To this end, special sterilizing machines called autoclaves have been created. They use the physical action of heat to decontaminate the micro-organisms on dentists’ instruments.
Good instrument decontamination results are dependent on proper maintenance of autoclaves, so every machine must undergo specific monitoring cycles on a regular basis in order to assess its working capacity.
What is the Prion test?
The Prion Test is not a test of how well the machine is working (like the Helix, Bowie & Dick and Vacuum Tests), but a control test performed during the sterilisation cycle to ascertain that certain sterilisation parameters are met.
The use of the prion cycle and its monitoring through Prion Test, although not a legal requirement in many countries, is a good practice, which is strongly recommended, especially if the possibility of contact emerges from the patient’s medical history with the prion of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Prion tests allow users to ensure that the instruments, materials and surfaces in a dental autoclave have been exposed to the specific sterilization cycle, thus preventing infection and complying with the legal guidelines for sterilization activities.
Autoclaves and prion cycle
The prion sterilisation cycle generally includes exposure to effective sterilisation temperatures for around 14 minutes longer than the standard 134°C cycle. At the end of the cycle, the Prion Test, placed inside the chamber, is used to ascertain that sterilisation conditions have been met and maintained for the period of time needed to destroy the prions.