March 30th, 2021
Quick Disconnect and Improved Hot Water Sanitation Cycles
Overview: A company that produces endoscope reprocessors partnered with Saint-Gobain Life Sciences to design a customized solution for their sterilizing-grade filter capsule needs.
The Application: Sterilizing filters are used within endoscope reprocessors to ensure the cleanliness of fluids that contact an endoscope as it is being cleaned. The filters were required to be capable of removing high levels of microbial contamination and were to be changed out on a routine basis – more than one time per year. The filters also were required to be compatible with thermal sanitization cycles and to not interfere with the system’s ability to reach sanitizing temperatures quickly. This lead to unique challenges which were not met by a standard filter design.
The Challenge: Typical cartridge filters often used within endoscope reprocessors are installed within a reusable housing. The replacement of cartridge filters requires special tools, training, and can result in spillage of liquid within the equipment. It also requires direct contact between the operator and a potentially contaminated filter and fluid. Also, when hot water for sanitization is introduced into filters with traditional flow paths, a significant amount of time is required for the whole filter to achieve the sanitizing temperature. This delay led to an unacceptable increase in the cycle time of the reprocessor.
The Solution: Saint-Gobain designed a solution that allows for easy filter replacement and can achieve the required temperature profile across the entire filter in a very short amount of time. The use of quick connect fittings in a linear arrangement improves ease of use for technicians who have to change the filters routinely, prevents spillage, and reduces contact with the contaminated filter cartridge and fluid. By arranging the fittings at the top of the capsule, all liquid held up within the filter capsule remains safely inside and allows the technician to easily disengage the quick connect fittings with one hand while safely holding the filter capsule in the other hand.
To improve the speed at which the temperature within the capsule filter uniformly reaches the target sanitization temperature, a patented dip-tube was added to the inlet of the filter. The dip-tube directs the influent fluid flow downward to more evenly distribute temperature within the capsule, rapidly achieving thermal equilibrium to the set point. This ensures the desired cycle time of the reprocessor is achieved.
An additional advantage of the Saint-Gobain solution is that the custom nature of the capsule helps to ensure the correct and approved part is installed by users of the endoscope reprocessor. Specifically, the unique fitting configuration on this capsule is not available on typical off the shelf filters and therefore it is extremely unlikely that a user would install a non-approved replacement filter. An additional aspect to this solution enabled a space in the design for an RFID security system to be easily incorporated. This further safeguarded only approved filters can be used with the reprocessor.
Left. Traditional filter. Right. Filter with the downspout that ensures confluent stream of liquid across full filtration media.