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Clinical Q&A: Enzymatic Detergents

12.11.2019 • Industry News

Anyone who's worked in sterile processing knows that you shouldn't use household dish soap to clean surgical instruments, but why? What makes an enzymatic detergent different from the soap you use at home? How does it work? We asked Brandon VanHee, CRCST, CIS, CER, CHL, AGTS, Clinical Education Manager at Key Surgical and got all the answers to your enzymatic detergent questions. 

Q: What does an enzymatic detergent do?

A: Enzymatic detergents are a type of cleaning solution specifically designed to assist in the cleaning and decontamination of surgical instrumentation and other reusable medical devices. Enzymatic detergents contain different types of enzymes that help breakdown complex molecules, such as proteins and fats, into simpler forms that are more easily removed from the surface of the device.

Q: Why is a multi-enzymatic detergent important?

A: Multi-enzymatic detergents are important because surgical soil is a complex mixture of many different materials, such as blood, tissue, and subcutaneous fat. Enzymes are substrate specific, meaning that they target specific types of materials based on their structure. Each enzyme type in a multi-enzymatic detergent is incredibly efficient at breaking down each of the different components of surgical soil. The addition of surfactants and emulsifiers help pull the soil away from the instrument surface. A multi-enzymatic detergent is the most effective and efficient cleaning solution for surgical instrumentation.

Q: What are the different enzymes?

A: The three main classes of enzymes used for surgical instrument cleaning are:

Protease: a class of enzymes that catalyze proteolysis, which is the breakdown of proteins into smaller polypeptides. Proteases utilize a process called hydrolysis to cleave the peptide bonds within proteins to break them down into smaller polypeptides that are more readily soluble and easier to rinse away.

Lipase: a class of enzymes that catalyze the breakdown of fats. Lipid rich soils are often difficult to remove due to their hydrophobic characteristics; and when broken down, these soils are easier to remove from surgical instrumentation.

Amylase: a class of enzymes that catalyze the breakdown of non-soluble polysaccharides into soluble disaccharides.

Check out Key Surgical's new multi-enzymatic detergent, Dr. Weigert MultiZym