Microbial contamination potential of sterile disposable plastic syringes

W. Y. Huey, D. W. Newton, S. C. Augustine, B. D. Vejraska, F. P. Mitrano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The contamination potential of sterile disposable plastic syringes was evaluated after subjecting the syringes to both simulated in-use conditions and an intentional microbial challenge. Lots of 20 Luer-lock syringes in 10 or 12-cu cm and 20- or 30-cu cm sizes from three manufacturers were tested. Sampling was conducted using 30-ml vials of sterile aerobic culture media containing 14C-labeled substrates. Microbial contamination was confirmed by both visual observation of the turbidity caused by colonization and instrumental detection of 14CO2 caused by the microbial metabolism of 14C-substrates. No contamination of 120 samples was found after the ribbed plunger shaft was grasped by a bare, unprepared dry hand during five cycles of filling and injecting the medium into the vials without removing the needles from the stoppers. When this sampling technique was applied to the syringes inoculated on the upper piston surface with Bacillus subtilis suspension, a 100% contamination rate was observed in 120 samples each under both positive and negative in-vial pressure. Grasping the ribbed plunger shaft of disposable plastic syringes with a dry bare hand did not compromise the sterility of the syringe contents in this study; however, this practice should be avoided when possible. Personnel should absolutely avoid introducing fluid-borne microbial contaminants into the distal barrel end of these syringes because the contents are readily labile to contamination under these conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-105
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospital Pharmacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 6 1985
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Leadership and Management
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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