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Rothman Institute Study

SterileBits® vs. standard reusable operating room drill bits: Is there a difference?

Antonia F. Chen, M.D., Noreen J. Hickok, Ph.D., and Caroline Purtill


Drill bits used in the performance of Orthopaedic surgeries often are re-cleaned, autoclaved and re-used multiple times. The purpose of this study was to determine if using SterileBits® offered an advantage over conventional (consigned), sterilized operating room (OR) drill bits in terms of sterility and surfacewear. The original study was conducted on June 23, 2017 then verified with three additional studies between July 7, 2017 and August 15, 2017.



Drill bits were placed using sterile technique into 5 ml of Tryptic Soy Broth in a 15 ml round bottompolystyrene tube. The top was sealed with parafilm around the drill bit, and holes were placed throughout the parafilm to allow for aeration. Drill bits were incubated for at least 3 days and contamination assessed by (1) cloudiness of the media and (2) in later samples, appearance of growth on a TSB plate spread with 1 ml of the bathing medium.

Surface wear

Clean OR drill bits and SterileBits® were imaged with light microscopy and surface wear was visually inspected.



15 of 15 SterileBits® examined showed no growth, no contamination. One SterileBit was excluded, as the Control in the same test lot showed fungal contamination. Of the 24 sterile bits taken from kits in the OR, 6 showed bacterial growth, 4 of these were confirmed as fungal. There were at least 1-2 contaminated OR bits found in each of the 4 study events.


Pictures of the OR drill bits and Sterile bits are in a separate file. No obvious differences are observed in surface wear.



SterileBits® offer a 4-fold reduction in bacterial growth when compared to the drill bits retrieved from the OR.

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