5 ways to reduce the carbon footprint of surgical instruments

Minimising the carbon footprint of surgical instruments is just one of the many ways in which NHS Trusts can work towards their Net Zero plans.

Whilst quality reusable instruments can have a larger upfront cost than cheaper reusable instruments or disposable alternatives, they can make a much bigger contribution to hospital Trusts reducing their carbon footprint.

This is because less waste is generated as fewer instruments need to be manufactured and disposed of.

So what 5 things can help you identify reusable instruments that will help you reduce carbon equivalent emissions? 

  1. Longevity of instruments

At Cairn Technology, we want to supply the very best surgical instrument solutions for NHS Trusts looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Stille instruments allow us to do this as they are warrantied for 30 years (1).

In fact, there are many recorded instances of Stille instruments being used for longer. One inventory in a surgical centre in Sweden revealed that 26% of its surgical scissors had been in service for up to 50 years and 74% were over 50 years old.

Stille helps maintain the longevity of its products by providing its own expert and comprehensive maintenance service. This includes the complete dismantling of instruments to ensure that they are properly inspected, refurbished and cleaned.

  1. Instrument design

Good instrument design is essential if they are to be long-lasting for minimum impact on the environment.

Handcrafted through over 70 individual steps and made from the highest quality steel, Stille instruments draw on the company’s 175 years of engineering know-how to deliver instruments that will last for decades.

A considered commitment to design has seen them develop a number of innovative instruments. These include the first SuperCut scissors, which use one knife blade and one scissor blade for precise cutting to the very tip, and the first double-action bone rongeur.

By choosing instrument variants, such as the Stille SuperCut XE scissors, which come with a more durable and environmentally friendly Chrome-free coating, you can go even further in reducing the carbon footprint of surgical instruments in your operating theatres.

  1. Ease of maintenance and repair

Clever design of Stille instruments has also ensured that they can be cleaned, sterilised, inspected and maintained effectively.

For example, removable joint screws in instruments such as Stille scissors and rongeurs ensure that they can be disassembled for thorough cleaning and inspection. This design also allows for the correct resharpening of scissor blades to bring them back to their original condition, ensuring even longer service in the field.

Another example is the Kerrison Stille Laminectomy Punch. Here the absence of a spring between the handles improves the accessibility for cleaning and reduces the risk of surgical gloves getting caught.

  1. Durability

You can ensure even greater longevity by choosing reusable Stille instruments that consist of metals that even outperform stainless steel.

For example, instruments with Tungsten Carbide in the blades or tips are stronger than stainless steel and can last up to five times longer.

Instruments with ceramic coating provide four to five times higher surface hardness than stainless steel, as well as offering greater resistance to rust and corrosion.

Whilst Titanium is fracture-proof, non-rusting and is entirely resistant to chemicals.

  1. Reliability

Failure of a surgical instrument immediately before or during surgery can not only risk patient health, but it can also lead to procedures being halted and postponed.

From an environmental point of view this is bad, as it then means that a lot of single-use consumables, such as absorbent floor mats and surgical gloves, will need to be disposed of, with more being required for the procedure when it finally takes place.

So investing in reliable surgical instruments can also impact on carbon emission reduction for a wider range of theatre consumables as well.

Want to improve your carbon footprint with Stille instruments?

If you are interested in investing in Stille instruments, please click here to contact us. You can also browse the Stille range here:


(1) 30 year warranty applies so long as they are used, cared for and serviced properly by Stille’s own service team.

Surgical Instrument Care: Ensuring Precision and Longevity

Surgical instruments are indispensable tools in the realm of healthcare, playing a critical role in medical procedures that demand precision and accuracy.

To maintain their functionality and extend their lifespan, proper care and maintenance are essential. Surgeons and healthcare professionals must adhere to rigorous protocols for cleaning, sterilizing, and storing surgical instruments.

This article delves into the importance of surgical instrument care and outlines best practices to ensure their optimal performance.

1. Cleaning: The First Line of Defence

Proper cleaning is the foundation of surgical instrument care. Immediately after use, instruments should be thoroughly cleaned to remove blood, tissue, and other contaminants. Manual cleaning with a mild detergent or enzymatic cleaner is often the initial step. It is crucial to follow manufacturer guidelines for cleaning agents and techniques to prevent corrosion and damage.

Ultrasonic cleaners are commonly used in healthcare settings, employing high-frequency sound waves to dislodge debris from hard-to-reach areas. Automated washer-disinfectors are also valuable for large-scale cleaning, providing a standardized and efficient process.

2. Inspection and Quality Control

After cleaning, a meticulous inspection is imperative. Every instrument should be examined for signs of damage, wear, or malfunction. Hinges, joints, and cutting edges should be scrutinized to ensure they meet the manufacturer’s specifications. Any instrument showing signs of wear or damage should be promptly removed from circulation and either repaired or replaced.

Routine quality control measures, such as regular inspections and testing, help identify issues early on, preventing potential complications during surgery. Establishing a comprehensive quality management system contributes to the overall safety and efficiency of surgical procedures.

3. Sterilization: Eliminating Pathogens

Sterilization is a critical step to eliminate pathogens and ensure aseptic conditions in the operating room. There are various sterilization methods available, including steam autoclaving, ethylene oxide gas, and hydrogen peroxide plasma. Each method has its advantages and limitations, and healthcare facilities must select the most appropriate method based on the types of instruments and materials used.

Validation processes and routine monitoring of sterilization equipment are essential to guarantee the effectiveness of the sterilization process. Stringent adherence to sterilization protocols is crucial for preventing surgical site infections and other complications.

4. Proper Storage: Preserving Instrument Integrity

Once cleaned and sterilized, surgical instruments must be stored properly to maintain their integrity. Sterile packaging, such as peel pouches or wrapped trays, helps prevent contamination during storage. Instruments should be stored in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated environment, away from direct sunlight and harsh chemicals.

Implementing an organized system for instrument storage ensures quick and easy access, reducing the risk of damage during retrieval. Regular checks of storage areas for cleanliness and organization are vital components of a comprehensive surgical instrument care program.

5. Education and Training: Empowering Healthcare Professionals

Education and training are integral components of effective surgical instrument care. Healthcare professionals, including surgeons, nurses, and SSD technicians, should receive comprehensive training on proper handling, cleaning, and maintenance procedures. Ongoing education programs help keep staff updated on the latest advancements in instrument care and reinforce the importance of adherence to established protocols.

6. Choosing high-quality instruments

Finally, hospitals can help sterile services department staff to clean and maintain surgical instruments more effectively by investing in high-quality reusable surgical instruments. Not only will these be manufactured to minimise the risk of corrosion, they are also often designed to be taken apart for effective cleaning and servicing. Take a look at our range of Stille instruments here if you are looking for surgical instruments that meet these requirements: