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Method and apparatus for cleaning, decontaminating, and sterilizing catheters

Image Number 7 for United States Patent #5871692.

A method for cleaning, decontaminating, and sterilizing catheters (10) using a combination of liquid and gaseous/plasma sterilization techniques to ensure the complete and efficient sterilization of a catheter (10). Angiographic dye and saline are removed from the interior (36) of the balloon (14) and its lumen (16). The outer surfaces of the catheter (10) and a guide wire lumen (18) of the catheter (10) are cleaned, decontaminated, and sterilized (42) with a liquid sterilant. The liquid sterilant fills a balloon (14) and a balloon lumen (16) of the catheter (10). The liquid sterilant is retained in the balloon (14) and the lumen (16) for a select amount of time. Thereafter, the liquid sterilant is drained from the balloon (14) and the balloon lumen (16). The filling, retaining, and draining steps are repeated until an interior (36) of the balloon (14) and the balloon lumen (16) are sterilized. Residual liquid sterilant is rinsed from the interior (36) of the balloon (14) and the balloon lumen (16). The catheter (10) is dried and then a plasma or gaseous sterilant is used to sterilize at least the outer surfaces and the guide wire lumen (18) of the catheter (10).

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