Water Protection of Surgical Power Tools – How Important?

Water Protection of Power Tools

Surgical power tool systems, which are used in surgeries and come into contact with the body, are devices that frequently come into contact with liquids. Devices that are sterile in a steam autoclave device before surgery require washing due to splashes and tissues, especially after arthroplasty and trauma operations. In this article, we’ll try to explain to you “Water Protection of Power Tools” and how important it is. 


The basic principle in the steam autoclave is to ensure that every point of the material to be sterilized is in contact with saturated water vapor at a certain temperature for a sufficient time. (Karadağ, 2005) This means that your surgical power tools, which have an electronic system, come into contact with high pressure water vapor.

At the same time, in case of a malfunction that may occur in the autoclave, for example, the waste water cannot be discharged, your device may come into direct contact with the water that may accumulate in the autoclave.


Surgical power tools should be washed with water in order to clean the blood and tissue residues after the operation. A pre-cleaning is required for the cannula (a channel in the motor for wire sending) in the drill handpieces and the areas where the attachments inserted. At this stage, the handpiece comes into contact with water (washing under the tap) and disinfectants.

Due to the risk of infection, it is recommended that the cleaning personnel use the automated washing machine after a very short pre-cleaning to minimize contact with the device.

Click here to learn how to clean and sterilize surgical power tools.

What do the IP numbers that indicate the liquid protection rating of the devices mean?

IP code (International Protection Code) classes are an international standard developed by the European Commission to determine the resistance of electrical appliances against external factors. (IEC 60529) Electrical products are given an IP code to indicate safe working conditions.

Figure 1. IP code identification (IEC 60529)

This code is expressed by 2 numbers after the letters IP. (Figure 1) In this article, protection against liquid is evaluated in detail. The higher the number in liquid protection, the better for the electronics. Device; the better it is protected from the negative effects of moisture, such as short circuit, moisture leakage, condensation or corrosion.

The first number indicates the protection of the device against solid objects, as seen in Figure 1. It evaluates the device starting from the inability of human hands to enter the device until the dust does not enter it. (0 to 6)

The second number indicates the protection of the device against liquids. (Figure 2) (between 0-8)

Note: If one of the conditions is not evaluated, it is displayed as X. (For example, IPX6)

Figure 2. Liquid Protection Ratings (IEC 60529)

You can find more information about water protection of power tools and other electronic devices on FDA’s article Evaluation of Production Cleaning Processes for Electronic Medical Devices.

For the reasons mentioned above, when purchasing a surgical power tool, the IP liquid protection degree of the product should be requested from the manufacturer / seller.

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  • IEC 60529 Amd.2 Ed. 2.0 b:2013

  • Uzm. Dr. Adil KARADAĞ. Otoklav ile Sterilizasyon. Göğüs Hastalıkları Hastanesi, Acil Servisi, SAMSUN. 4. Ulusal Sterilizasyon Dezenfeksiyon Kongresi – 2005

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