Aim: This study evaluated the reliability of a new rapid biological spore test (BST) for determining the sterilization efficacy of dental steam autoclaves within 20 minutes, as compared to a conventional BST requiring 2 days of incubation after autoclave exposure.
Materials and methods: A total of 177 pairs of BST, each composed of a rapid test (Celerity™ 20 Steam Biologic Indicator, Steris) and a conventional BST (Attest™ 1262 Biological Indicator, 3M), both containing Geobacillus stearothermophilus spores, were placed into steam autoclaves loaded with instruments, and subjected to either sterilizing (157 pairs) or non-sterilizing conditions (20 pairs). Celerity™ BST was then incubated for 20 minutes at 57°C, with the growth medium evaluated spectrophotometrically for fluorescent α-glucosidase signal changes (no change with successful sterilization; increased fluorescence after failed sterilization). Attest™ BST was incubated for 48 hours at 57°C, after which a pH-based color change in the culture broth was visually assessed (no change in purple color with successful sterilization; change to yellow color with failed sterilization).
Results: Celerity™ and Attest™ BST both accurately identified successful sterilization, with no G. stearothermophilus spore growth from either BST after exposure to sterilizing steam autoclave conditions (100% agreement between 157 pairs of each BST). Both BST also accurately detected unsuccessful sterilization, with all tested ampoules positive for G. stearothermophilus spore germination after non-sterilizing steam autoclave time periods. Both BST exhibited 100% sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy for detection of sterilizing steam autoclave conditions.
Conclusion: Celerity™ BST, after only 20 minutes incubation, performed equally as well as a BST requiring 48 hours incubation in determining the sterilization efficacy of dental steam autoclaves.
Clinical significance: Rapid BST offer earlier detection of sterilization failure before potentially contaminated dental instruments are used in clinical patient care.
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