The highly aggressive sterilization methods used on medical devices to help combat healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are harsh and can cause color shift. Medical devices that become discolored from sterilization can comprise patient safety and public peace of mind. For example, patients might associate a discolored device with being unclean or unsafe.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) should understand the impact of medical device sterilization methods. E-beam and gamma sterilization are two of the most effective and increasingly used methods, but polymers that are subjected to these techniques can exhibit undesired color shift.
To offer devices that can be sterilized to help prevent HAIs, suppliers are collaborating with OEMs early in the development process to select materials that can be effectively sterilized with minimal to no color shift.
For example, Eastman Chemical Company shares information with customers about the effects sterilization can have on its Tritan copolyester. In studies, after gamma and e-beam sterilization, Tritan has exhibited excellent color retention among most transparent polymers available for medical device applications.