Believe it or not, but at one-time the sterilization pouch was not omnipresent in the medical profession. When sterilization was far less developed as art form, the effort to keep equipment sterile was in many ways left up to chance. The standard procedure to package disinfected equipment involved bundling the items in a type of green towel, securing them with tape and marking the kit as “sterile”.

Fortunately, the field has evolved by leaps and bounds; producing for the patients of today a much more scientific and trustworthy product we call sterilization pouches.

There are a number of crucial features offered by the modern sterilization pouch. The first include a combination of materials. While the main body of the unit should be composed of an impermeable material, one side should be somewhat porous. This permeability will allow the sterilizing vapors of the autoclave to penetrate into the pouch while keeping harmful bacteria out. This is accomplished best with non-recycled craft paper.

While the material will keep organisms out, proper construction is necessary to prevent contamination. If the bag is punctured or torn it is of no use. Therefore the best bags have heat-sealed rails and triple sealed seams, thus ensuring the edges remain intact. Should the pouch be breached in spite of these precautions, good brands will come with a transparent, blue-tinted film that will signal when sterility has been compromised. This is different from the internal and external indicator (also critical), which signals when adequate sterilization has been achieved.

Additionally, modern pouches have two components to enhance the ability of the product to be resealed. The first is a wide, adhesive strip. The second is a perforated edge allowing one side to be folded over.

The last two features found in modern sterilization pouches do more to promote usability then sterility. This is, nevertheless, an important aspect given the delicacy of the procedures in which the pouches are used. First, a good pouch will have a large flap, providing easy access to the tool within. Second, the pouch will have a large lip, giving users a greater grip on the unit and reducing fumbling.

Each of these features plays an important role in promoting basic hospital hygiene. It is a doctor and dentist’s responsibility to his patients to make sure he has done everything he can to promote a safe and successful procedure. Making sure the pouch he purchases contains each of these elements is essential to accomplish that end.