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J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1988 Apr; 11(2): 94-7.

Efficacy of various methods of sterilization of acupuncture needles.

Sisco V, Winters LL, Zange LL, Brennan PC.

Department of Microbiology, National College of Chiropractic, Lombard, IL 60148.

The iatrogenic transmission of hepatitis B virus by inadequately sterilized acupuncture needles recently has been reported. Because some licensed chiropractors use acupuncture as a therapeutic modality, we have evaluated sterilization methods for these needles, which would be adaptable for use in a chiropractic office. Dry heat, boiling water, pressurized steam, sodium hypochlorite, and 70% alcohol were compared with a glass bead dry heat sterilizer originally developed for dental instruments. Presterilized acupuncture needles were contaminated with Bacillus stearothermophilus, Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus epidermidis and sterilized for intervals ranging from 5 sec to 30 min. The needles were then cultured to determine the efficacy of the sterilization regimen. Seventy percent alcohol was ineffective as a sterilization method. In terms of both time and convenience, the glass bead apparatus was the most efficient of the remaining methods tested. B. stearothermophilus-contaminated acupuncture needles were sterilized within 10 sec of exposure to preheated glass beads. Less than 10 sec exposure killed E. coli and S. epidermidis. A significant advantage of the glass bead sterilizer over the other methods was the absence of physical damage to the needles.


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