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Filter out the Bad: A Note on Rigid Containers

Follow ANSI/AAMI standards when reprocessing surgical instrumentation. Filter out the bad in rigid containers! Provide a proper barrier.

rigid container filter protecting against microbialsLet’s set the scene: The filter popped, no filter was attached, there was an unknown material in the bottom of your rigid containers. Do any of these issues sound familiar to your Sterile Processing Department (SPD)? Nothing is worse than needing to open another instrument set due to a lack of prior inspection.


Rigid containers come in various shapes and sizes. Different containers are paired with matching filters that may be secured to the container’s lid and/or base.  The filters associated with the container may be disposable (single use), reusable, or permanently attached. Not only does the filter provide a microbial barrier, it also permits the passage of air and sterilant. Do you filter out the bad in rigid containers?


ANSI/AAMI ST77:2013/(R)2018 ‘Containment devices for reusable medical device sterilization,’ The filters of reusable rigid sterilization containers shall completely cover the sterilization port(s). The means by which the filter is held in place shall provide a tight uniform seal. Filters shall be protected to prevent tears and potential damage. The filters and filter retention mechanisms shall provide a microbial barrier. Compatibility of the filter with the specified sterilization modality shall be demonstrated.”


Sterile processing personnel should follow the rigid sterilization container system instruction for use when reprocessing surgical instrumentation. Especially when applying the appropriate filter to the container. A good rule of thumb is to use single use filters from the same rigid container manufacturer. You may select a different filter if a vendor has validated that their filter has been tested for compatibility with your container manufacturer.


Filter out the bad in rigid containers by selecting the proper filter.


Read more from the PROCESS PROs by visiting our Blog page.

Natoria Pettyjohn, A.A.S., CRCST, CIS, CHL, CFER
ORC Staff Development Specialist II

From starting as a unit secretary to assisting surgeons as a surgical technician, Natoria Pettyjohn has over ten years of healthcare experience. Natoria’s healthcare experience includes formally serving as the Surgical Instrument Specialist representative for the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD). She currently represents off-site reprocessing centers on achieving and maintaining sterile processing best practices. Natoria has acquired all certifications from the CBSPD and the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM).