How to Wrap Surgical Instruments

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Surgical instruments are wrapped in double layers of woven fabric specifically designed for sterilization in an autoclave (sterilization machine). The procedure of wrapping surgical instruments is precise and must be performed accurately to ensure sterile results. Wrapping surgical instruments incorrectly can lead to instrument contamination. Always follow your facility's guidelines for safe instrument wrapping, and do not perform the task if you are not experienced.

Things You'll Need

  • Sterilization sheets
  • Sterilization indicator strips
  • Sterilization tape
  • Gauze
  • Instrument tip covers
  • Sterilization instrument bags

Determine if you are wrapping single instruments, sets or trays. Gather single instrument sterilization bags for single instruments, or autoclave wraps to prepare instrument sets or trays. Ensure all instruments are free of body fluids or debris and have been soaked in an approved solution for pre-cleaning.

Place a single instrument in an appropriate size sterilization bag. Cover the sharp or blunt end of the instrument with a small gauze pad to prevent puncture of the bag. Insert a sterilization indicator strip into the package, and then seal the package.

Place two square sterilization sheets on a large, flat surface. Arrange one in a square position and the other in a diamond position on top of the first. Arrange gauze in the middle of the diamond-shaped sheet if applicable. Arrange the appropriate instruments over the gauze, ensuring all lie as flat as possible. Open any closed instruments. Place the tips of sharp instruments slightly into the gauze for protection, or use tip covers if available. Add a sterilization strip with the instruments.

Fold the diamond-shaped sheet appropriately in an envelope fold. Fold the square-shaped sheet over the other in a square-fold. Consult your facility’s guidelines for proper folding technique. Tape the outside sheet with approved sterilization indicator tape.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wrap a surgical tray in a square fold, or the fold most appropriate to fit around the size tray you are using.
  • You may use a single sheet of approved, double layer, woven sterilization sheet in place of two separate sheets if available.
  • You may place both sterilization sheets in a diamond position for wrapping, or the technique best suited to what you are wrapping.

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