What are the common needs for sterilizing veterinary medical instruments?
Veterinary care facilities have a number of requirements to look for in an autoclave. Depending upon the specific facility, users will need to sterilize instruments, mostly unwrapped, as well as glassware and discard. But the main driver for the autoclave will be the size of the instruments.
For most veterinarians, a Benchtop or a Compact Top Loading autoclave will suffice. Veterinarians treating cats, dogs, and other small animals use instruments similar in size to those used on humans, so a large autoclave is often not necessary. Veterinary care facilities also do not commonly wrap their instruments, as regulations are less stringent than human medical instruments. If the instruments are wrapped in pouches however, the Benchtop Drying autoclave will be desired.
However, if a veterinary facility is treating larger animals such as horses and cattle, or in zoos where there may be zebras and elephants, the instruments can become much larger. An instrument that requires reaching into the body of the animal has to reach that much further to accommodate the size of the animal. One clear difference, for example, is the size of a dental endoscope. For humans, the instrument is only 2 to 4 inches, whereas for horses it is around 16 inches. In these instances, a larger autoclave is also required to sterilize the instruments, such as a Front Loading Autoclave. If the instruments are in pouches, the unit should incorporate a drying option as well.
Most commonly for vets, a Benchtop Closed Door Drying unit will suffice, or a Compact Top Loader if that is their preference. The exception to this is when sterilizing something too big to fit in the chamber.