Frequently Asked Questions

In this section you can find a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions about Surtex Instruments in general, our products, services and instruments reprocessing. This information will help you learn more about the quality of customer care you can expect from us.

Below are the sections covered on this page

  • General FAQs
  • Services FAQs
  • Quality FAQs
  • Instruments Reprocessing FAQs

General FAQs

Q. Who is Surtex Instruments?

A. Surtex Instruments located in Surrey, United Kingdom is a privately owned internationally recognized and certified manufacturer of surgical instruments. Our range consists of over 8,000 products for surgical and dental with a special focus on burn surgery specialty.

Q. What does Surtex Instruments life time warranty mean?

A. Surtex Instruments are guaranteed for life against manufacturing defects of material and workmanship. This guarantee is void if instruments are not maintained properly, or if they are not used for their intended surgical purpose.

Surtex guarantees against breakage, joint failure, and corrosions under normal use. Instruments that show expected “Fair Wear & Tear” under ordinary use are not considered to be defective. Modifying or re-tipping an instrument or failure to provide proper instrument care, including proper cleaning and maintenance, may void this warranty. Sharpening and minor tip damage is considered routine maintenance with normal use, and are not covered by warranty.

Tungsten carbide inserts on scissors, needle holders and wire cutters are guaranteed for three years. Replacement parts, such as springs, are guaranteed for one year.

Surtex Instruments will repair or replace, free of charge, any surgical instrument that does not meet its functional requirements when used for its intended purpose and maintained properly.

Q. Are there any other limitations on the warranty?

Surtex Instruments does not accept liability if instruments are not used for their intended purpose. or not maintained properly. We will not accept responsibility for products, which are not looked after as per our instruments care and handling guide.

The use of commercial/residential grade washers; The use of dental automated washer-disinfectors where manufacturer's processing guidelines are not followed; The use of cleaning solutions. chemicals, and/or procedures that are contrary to Surtex's recommendation.

The express warranty described herein and any applicable implied warranties, including warranties or merchantability and fitness, are limited as hereinabove stated. Damages from breach of such warranties are limited to the cost of repair or replacement, at Surtex’s option. Consequential or incidental damages resulting from breach of any applicable express or implied warranties are hereby excluded.

Q. What warranty cover is available for non-instrument ranges?

A. All products are supplied with manufacturer's warranty terms please refer to the documentation received with the product or contact us for a replacement.

Q. What is Surtex's policy regarding ethical trade?

A. Surtex has a clear and defined policy on the subject of ethical trade which be viewed on our website under the policy section.

Q. How can I buy Surtex Instruments products?

A. Surtex products are available direct through us in UK and through our authorized distributors worldwide.

Q. How can I locate a Surtex Instruments product representative in my area?

A. Surtex will provide you details of the nearest distributor, please email at sales@surtex-instruments.co.uk and a member of our sales team will assist you.

Services FAQs

Q. What is Surtex Instruments goods return policy?

A. Customers have 7 days from the date of purchase to return an item for a full refund less shipment charges. When Surtex agrees to accept goods after 7 days a 20 % restocking fee will be charged. No return will be accepted after 15 days. Custom-made, made to order, color-coded, etched, and specially sourced instruments are non-returnable. Instruments that have been used/sterilized are also non-returnable. All products being returned should be sent in their original unopened packaging.

Please obtain an RRN “Return Reference Number” by completing the online RRN Form. Once you have been issued an RRN kindly download and complete the Goods Return Form and send it along with the shipment. The RRN number and contact name of the person who issued the RRN number must accompany all returned products. All products must be shipped to our office unless you are instructed otherwise. Please send to the address below.

Surtex Instruments Ltd.
47 Kingston Hill
London KT2 7PS
England

Q. How do I return a product for service and repair?

A. Please obtain a RRN “return reference number” by completing the online RRN Form. Once you have been issued an RRN kindly download and complete the Goods Return Form and send it along with the shipment. Please clearly state details of the issue encountered if sending goods back under a warranty claim. Remember to include a business card with a contact, phone number and be sure to list any special requests or specific repair information.

All used instruments must be returned with a certificate of decontamination for the protection of our staff. Surtex will dispose off products on receipt sent without a certification of decontamination available from hospital CSSD departments. (We recommend using a service that you can track in case shipments are lost or damaged during transport.)

Ship instruments to:

Surtex Instruments Ltd.
47 Kingston Hill
London KT2 7PS
England

Q. How often do you recommend I service my instruments?

A. The requirement for service depends on a number of factors and there is no fixed time schedule as such. It is important that instruments are regularly tested and inspected to ensure proper function. Below are a few indicators for different instrument types which when present would indicate a need for service.

Thumb Forceps, Rongeurs, Hemostats: Ensure tips line up with regular fingertip and thumb pressure.

Needle Holders: Apply the first notch on the instrument ratchets and hold up the instrument to a bright light. If light is visible through the jaws it indicates a repair requirement.

Scissors: Open the scissors and inspect for pitting marks on the inside of each blade. Use rubber-like material known as Theraband to test scissors' sharpness. Medium-grade red Theraband is used for scissors measuring 4.5 inches to 12 inches in length Yellow Theraband is used for scissors measuring 3 inches to 4 inches in length. Make several complete cuts through the material, cutting all the way to the distal tip (where scissors most often dull). This test will indicate satisfactory sharpness. If it does not make a clean cut or pulls on the material, it indicates a repair requirement.

Osteotomes, Gouges and Elevators: Inspect the tips for rough edges.

Q. How can I obtain Surtex product catalogs?

A. You will find all Surtex products featured in the products section of this website where you can view and download each product and its relevant catalog page. Furthermore our catalogs are available in PDF format for download HERE. If you need a printed version, please email us at sales@surtex-instruments.co.uk

Q. Does Surtex provides sample instruments for evaluation?

A. Please inquire if you need samples for the purpose of evaluation.

Q. I have created and submitted an RFQ (Request for Quote) on your website, what happens next?

A. A confirmation is sent to the address that you provided when submitting the RFQ. A member of our sales team will then contact you with a quote and provide assistance on order completion.

Q. How long will my order take to be delivered?

A. All deliveries are subject to our standard terms and conditions stated on the website. Your order delivery time is stated on the Pro-Forma Invoice. While we exert our best efforts to meet the stated order deadlines sometimes delays can occur due to circumstances beyond our control. If you have any special concerns please get in touch.

Q. Will you custom laser etch my instruments?

A. We can custom laser etch your instruments with hospital, department etc for identification or personalization.

Q. Does Surtex apply a minimum order restriction?

A. We do not apply a minimum order policy and all order sizes are welcomed.

Q. Can you cross match Surtex product codes to other manufacturers?

A. On our website you will find an online advance search tool which can provide instant cross matches to over 40,000 different competitor codes which is constantly updated. If you are unable to match the code using our online tool please contact us with the competitor code and our knowledgeable staff will be delighted to assist you and provide you with a Surtex equivalent.

Q. Can Surtex manufacture custom designed instruments?

A. If you have a new innovative design or require modifications to an existing design Surtex wil be pleased to hear from you. We are a leader in development, manufacturing and distribution for surgical and dental instruments. Please contact us to discuss your requirements further.

Q. I have an innovative idea to develop a new product, how can I get Surtex involved?

A. Surtex welcomes innovate products and ideas, which help improve patient care. If you have an idea you would like to share with please request a form prior to submitting any samples or drawings. All material submitted would be returned if not adopted. Please contact sales@surtex-instruments.co.uk for further details.

Quality Related FAQs

Q. Are Surtex Instruments certified?

A. All out instruments are CE certified as per directive 93/42/EEC and manufactured in accordance with ISO 13485 and ISO 9001 international standards. We are independently audited by SGS UK on a regular basis to ensure ongoing compliance.

Q. Are Surtex Instruments traceable?

A. All our instruments are laser marked with necessary information for complete traceability. Instruments are marked with our brand logo, CE, product code with lot number indicated on the product packaging.

Q. How does Surtex Instruments inspect their instruments?

A. All items leaving Surtex facility are meticulously inspected as per our standard guidelines, which exceed international ISO standards. During the manufacturing process, each item is subjected to constant functional and visual checks by master craftsmen using the latest tools and optical technologies to ensure our standards are met.

Q. Which types of steel are used in manufacture of Surtex Surgical Instruments?

A. All Surtex instruments are manufactured using premium grade European martensitic stainless steel in compliance with ISO 7153-1. The martensitic steels used are magnetic, containing typically 12% chromium and a moderate carbon content offering a high level of corrosion resistance. Typically we use 410 / 420 types extensively for dental and surgical instruments since they offer a good combination of corrosion resistance and a range of mechanical strength via heat treatment.

Q. What manufacturing tolerances are applied to Surtex Instruments?

A. All Surtex Instruments are hand made to exacting tolerances by master craftsmen. We strictly follow international standards which allow length variation of upto +/- 5.0 mm. Tighter tolerances result in enhanced pattern consistency and reliability that clinicians demand.

Q. What is Surtex Instruments heat treatment process?

A. Our instruments are vacuum heat-treated using special hardening and tempering procedures and are tested to ensure they conform to specified Rockwell HRC scale.

Q. How does Surtex attach tungsten carbide inserts to surgical instruments?

A. Surtex Instruments use a technique called Vacuum brazing to attach tungsten carbide inserts to surgical instruments. This unique method combines the brazing (attachment) with the simultaneous heat treatment of the instruments. The outcome is uniform hardness with no weak spots resulting is durable and long lasting instruments.

Instrument Reprocessing FAQs

Q. What are Surtex Instruments recommended instructions for reprocessing?

A. Surtex instructions for reprocessing are in accordance with HTM 2030 and HTM 2010 and supplied with each order for surgical and dental instruments. You can also view the guidelines on each product page on our website and download them from the support section. Recommended methods of sterilization will vary from product to product and you should always consult the instructions for use supplied with the product to select the correct method.

Q. Why must instruments be cleaned before being sterilized?

A. Cleaning should precede all disinfection and sterilization processes. Cleaning involves the removal of debris (organic or inorganic) from an instrument or device. If visible debris is not removed, it will interfere with microbial inactivation and can compromise the disinfection or sterilization process.

Q. How should I treat brand new instruments?

A. Care for your new instruments should begin from the moment your receive them to give them the best start in life.

  • Initially remove all transportation packaging before placing in storage or instruments usage processing cycle. Any protective caps or foils must also be removed.
  • New instruments should put through the whole re-processing cycle separately so that they do not come into contact with other older instruments or instruments that may have corrosion present already. Our advise it to put them through the process at least twice but we appreciate that this is not always possible.
  • New instruments incorporated into sets that have corroded instruments present are more likely to corrode themselves relatively quickly until this passive layer has been established.
  • New instruments are vulnerable to poor water quality, used in both the cleaning process and final rinse, inadequate drying, poor maintenance and the steam quality of the sterilization units and will rust if not looked after correctly.

Please note before using new instruments they must be subjected to the same processing cycle of cleaning and sterilization as used instruments. The cleaning step is highly critical because residues from packing material could lead to formation of stains/deposits during sterilization. Following the cleaning step make sure instruments appear to be visibly clean. New instruments tend to be more sensitive than used to critical treatment conditions, as the passive layer on the instrument is comparatively thinner.

Storing New Instruments

  • Store at room temperature in a dry room/cabinet otherwise condensation may build up inside plastic package due to temperature fluctuation causing subsequent corrosion damage.
  • NDo not store near chemical such as active chlorine, which emit corrosive vapors.
  • Allow special care to microsurgical instruments and use suitable storage rack or retainers available from Surtex.

Q. How to treat instruments with Tungsten Carbide Inserts during reprocessing?

A. Tungsten carbide (TC) inserts are much "harder" than regular stainless steel and therefore retain their sharpened edges longer than stainless steel. However TC inserts require special care and handling during processing.

Ultrasonic Cleaner

If an ultrasonic cleaner is utilized, please follow manufacturer’s instructions regarding solution dilution and the length of time the instruments are left in the solution. Please use only solutions that contain a corrosion inhibitor.

Steam Autoclave

If a steam autoclave is utilized, please be sure to use a corrosion inhibitor – surgical milk “Cleanlact” and many products exist in the market- place for this purpose. Please be sure that tungsten carbide instruments dry quickly during the “dry” or “vent” cycle of the autoclave – if the instruments are not drying or are removed wet, corrosion is still possible.

Q. Should hinged instruments be sterilized in the opened or closed position?

A. Sterilization can be achieved only if the sterilizing agent (e.g., steam) contacts all instrument surfaces. Therefore, hinged instruments, such as hemostats, scissors, and extraction forceps, should be sterilized in the open position to ensure that the sterilizing agent adequately contacts all surfaces.

Q. What is staining?

A. Staining is a surface deposit on instruments, and most often mistaken for rust. After autoclaving, you may notice a stain on your instruments. Rusting instruments are very rare. Stains on instruments appear in many colors and, in most cases, the colours tell you about the origin of the stain.

Q. What are the different types of staining and what do they indicate?

A. Following are different types of staining and their indications

Orange/Brown Stains

The problem is most often a phosphate layer (brown to light orange) on the instrument, which develops as a result of any of the following causes: water sources, detergents used to wash and clean instruments, surgical wrappings, cold sterilization solutions, or dried blood.

Black Stains

The most common black stains are due to an acid reaction. Black stains may result from detergents used to clean the instrument; similar to brown stains caused by high pH in detergents. The black acid type stain can be caused by low pH (less than six) during autoclaving.

Dark Brown Stains

Dark brown stains are usually a result of dried blood left on an instrument. Blood should be removed from the surface of the instrument immediately. It will break down the instruments surface with a chemical reaction.

Bluish/Black Stains

These are usually a result of plating and are extremely difficult to remove from the surface. The surface beneath the stain is always smooth, but the instrument may have to be refinished by Surtex to obtain good results. The cause for this stain is the mixing of dissimilar metals in ultrasonic cleaners and during autoclaving. Multi-color stains are most often due to excessive heat (chromium oxide stains), and actually show rainbow colors with a blue or brown overtone. When the instrument shows these heat stains, it may have lost part of its original hardness, and may not perform well. These instruments can usually be refinished, and the hardness tested. The staining can be polished off.

Purplish/Black Stains

May result from contact with ammonia. Many cleaning compounds contain ammonia, which remains on the Instrument if not rinsed thoroughly. Can also result from amine deposits traced in the autoclave or steam pipes. Follow autoclave cleaning with a cycle of distilled water.

Rust Spots

Rusting instruments are very rare. What appears as rust is actually residual organic matters or mineral deposits in box locks, ratchets, serrations, hinges etc. which have been baked on to the surface.

Sterilization of stainless instruments together with plated instruments of dissimilar material should be avoided. Chipped or imperfectly plated carbon steel instruments will cause rust deposits on stainless steel instruments. Electrolytic action will carry carbon particles from the exposed metal on to the stainless steel surface. These particles promptly oxidize and the stainless steel instrument appears to have rusted.

A rust-color film on instruments can be caused by the high mineral content or by the use of water softeners.

Q. What recommendations does Surtex Instruments give to prevent instruments from staining?

A. Never remove the final polishing film by rubbing or sanding. Never leave it in tap water for any length of time. Acidic or alkaline pH will remove chromium oxide and chloride ions will cause pitting. Copper, iron and manganese will cause brown and blue rainbow effects. Distilled water with a neutral ph can be used sparingly.

To minimize staining, it is important that the autoclave runs perfectly, and that it has a well-functioning drying cycle. The instruments should come out completely dry, whether in wrappers or loose on a tray. If any moisture is left in the pack, or on the instruments, it will result in tiny water droplets on the instrument surface, which will leave a circular stain after drying. The color of this stain will depend on the pH, as well as the mineral or metal contents of the water. If the drying cycle works perfectly, however, there is a much less chance for deposits to form on the surface of the instrument.

Stains due to metal deposits or plating stains are always near the most magnetic parts of the instrument. New instruments are often highly magnetic in the locks, the serrations and ratchets. This happens because the carbon steel tools used to work on the instruments during production are very magnetic themselves. This magnetism wears off gradually during handling and sterilization. This is the reason why newer instruments tend to stain more visibly. Rubbing the instrument with Surgical Instrument Oil, (also called Instrument Milk) and putting a drop of it between overlapping surfaces, will aid in keeping your surgical instrument for years to come.

Q. How does corrosion and pitting occur and how to prevent it?

A. Following are reasons for corrosion and pitting:

Corrosion

Presence of blood and soil in box locks, ratchets, serrations, hinges etc. can cause corrosion. More care should be taken in cleaning. Excessive moisture left on the surface of the instrument can lead to corrosion. Preheat the autoclave, do not rush the drying time. Foreign matters deposited in the autoclave can result in spotting and corrosion of instruments. Inner surfaces of the autoclave should be given a routine maintenance. Wipe down with acetic acid (equal parts of vinegar and distilled water) to remove any impurities. Stress corrosion can be caused by not opening box locks during sterilization procedure. The heating-up and cooling-down process during sterilization causes tension in the material.

Pitting

When instruments are exposed to saline solutions, blood, iodine, potassium chloride and other compounds pitting will occur. Instruments should be rinsed thoroughly immediately after exposure. Pitting can also be traced to detergents with a high pH level (B-9) used for instrument cleaning. Instruments should be thoroughly rinsed after cleaning. It is impossible to completely restore an instrument after pitting or rust has eroded the hard surface. The instrument should be replaced immediately as a pitted instrument is far more susceptible to further corrosion.

Q. Why is it important to use correct water quality during reprocessing?

A. The quality of water used during reprocessing is critical for the proper care and handling of instruments.

Water fulfills a number of functions during the reprocessing cycle.

  • Dissolves cleaners and other treatment agents.
  • Transmission of mechanical forces and transfer of heat to surface of the items to be washed.
  • Dissolve soluble dirt and impurities.
  • Flushes away cleaning and treatment solutions.

Unfavorable water composition can have adverse effect both on the treatment process and the appearance of instruments and materials. This is why water quality is critical during reprocessing cycles.

All natural water contains dissolved salts, concentrations very depending on the source of the water and purification processes used.

Depending on water hardness and temperature, fresh water used can lead to formation of hard layer (lime deposits, scale) that is difficult to dissolve. It is even possible for corrosion to occur underneath such deposits.

Depending on water hardness and temperature, fresh water used can lead to formation of hard layer (lime deposits, scale) that is difficult to dissolve. It is even possible for corrosion to occur underneath such deposits.

In softened water, alkalinity can greatly increase as a function of temperature and exposure. Especially when thermal disinfection is used in the final rinse, aluminium surfaces might be subject to attack.

When water evaporates, some substances contained in it remain as visible mineral residues. Chlorides dissolved in water are particularly critical substances because they tend to cause pitting even on stain-less steel instruments if present in higher concentrations.

To prevent excessive chloride concentrations and subsequent pitting we recommend using only fully demineralized water for the final rinse.

Other substances may cause brownish, bluish, gray-black or iridescent discolorations even when present in small quantities. Such discolorations may be caused silicates/silicic acids contained in the water, or by compounds containing iron, copper or manganese. As a rule however, such discolorations are harmless, constituting very thin residual layers that do not cause or facilitate corrosion.

Apart from its natural constituents, drinking water sometimes contains rust, generally flushed from corroded pipework. During the processing cycle this rust tends to adhere to instruments, causing rust spots (extraneous rust) and subsequent corrosion.

The use of fully demineralized water in the final rinse is not only recommended for the reasons described above (i.e. preventing chloride de-induced corrosion) but also because it helps keep the surfaces of the instruments free from stains and discolorations, and stabilizes anodized aluminium surfaces.

Q. Which is the best method for cleaning instruments, manual (e.g, scrubbing instruments with a brush) or automated?

A. Debris can be removed from an instrument either by scrubbing the instrument manually with a surfactant or detergent and water or by using automated equipment (e.g., ultrasonic cleaner, washer-disinfector) and chemical agents. After cleaning, instruments should be rinsed with water to remove chemical or detergent residue. Splashing should be minimized during rinsing and cleaning. Considerations in selecting cleaning methods and equipment include their effectiveness, their compatibility with the items to be cleaned, and the occupational health and exposure risks they pose. Because instruments cleaned with automated cleaning equipment do not need to be presoaked or scrubbed, the use of automated equipment can increase productivity, improve cleaning effectiveness, and decrease worker exposure to blood and body fluids. Thus, using automated equipment can be more efficient and safer than manually cleaning contaminated instruments.

Q. How do I perform manual cleaning?

A. If manual cleaning is not performed immediately, instruments should be placed into a container and soaked with a detergent, a disinfectant/detergent, or an enzymatic cleaner to prevent drying of patient material and make manual cleaning easier and less time consuming. Surtex also recommends using long-handled brushes to keep the hand as far away as possible from sharp instruments.

Q. What type of personal protective equipment is necessary when cleaning instruments and surfaces?

A. Instruments should be handled as though contaminated until processed through the sterilization cycle (unless the instrument has been processed with a thermal washer/disinfector that has a high-level disinfection cycle). To avoid injury from sharp instruments, personnel should wear puncture-resistant, heavy-duty utility gloves when handling or manually cleaning contaminated instruments and devices. Because splashing is likely to occur, they should also wear a facemask, eye protection or face shield, and gown or jacket. Employees should not reach into trays or containers holding sharp instruments that cannot be seen. To reduce their risk of injury, they should instead remove instruments using forceps or empty them onto a towel.

Reference

"Proper Maintenance of Surgical Instruments" (www.a-k-i.org)