Date Published: 16 September 2015
New ultrasonic device can improve cleaning of medical instruments, reducing contamination and associated risks
Recent scientific advances have lead to the development of a pioneering ultrasonic device that can dramatically improve the cleaning of medical instruments. This development could, in turn, could lead to reductions in contamination and the consequent risks of infection. This is important because the thorough cleaning of instruments between patients is necessary in order to avoid transmission of biological agents that can lead to conditions such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). The new ultrasonic device is also able to remove bacterial biofilms that typically cause dental disease and has been found to be effective at removing soft tissue from bones - an important step prior to transplants that is done to prevent rejection of the transplanted material by the recipient’s immune system.
More about the product:
Using only clean cold water, a new product called StarStream, recently invented at and patented by Southampton University in England, has been shown to remove biological contamination, including brain tissue from surgical steel. This product is now being manufactured by the UK company Ultrawave Ltd.
StarStream enables water to clean surfaces more efficiently by creating tiny bubbles which automatically scrub the surfaces. The device supplies a gentle stream of water through a nozzle that generates ultrasound and tiny bubbles, dramatically improving the cleaning power of water and reducing the need for additives and heating.
Expert responses to this technology:
Professor Tim Leighton of Southampton University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, who lead the scientific work that lead to the development of this product, said:
“ In the absence of sufficient cleaning of medical instruments, contamination and infection can result in serious consequences for the health sector and remains a significant challenge. Our highly-effective cleaning device, achieved with cold water and without the need for chemical additives or the high power consumption associated with conventional strategies, has the potential to meet this challenge and transform the sector. ”
He went on to add that
“ ... Commercialisation is vital: if we cannot build a business that can sell thousands of these to health providers at a price they find attractive, this invention will stay in the laboratory and help no-one. ”
Many other scientists also contributed to the success of this project. The team has gone on to form the beginning of Southampton University’s Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP) Strategic Research Group. Members of this group have published several scientific papers detailing evidence for the effectiveness of the ultrasonic techniques used in StarStream to increase the cleaning efficiency of water.
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