What is the difference between sterile and aseptic techniques?

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kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Sterile" and "aseptic" are synonymous terms in the sense that they both describe environments, objects, or practices which are free of microorganisms. That being said, there is some difference to their precise meanings and practice. Sterilization seeks to totally cleanse an object or space of any contaminants in preparation for medical procedures. For example, surgical tools like clamps and scalpels are sterilized in order to decrease the risk of infection in a patient. The aseptic technique, on the other hand, is intended to maintain the sterile quality of an object or space. Many medical implements, such as needles, are sterilized by the manufacturer and then packaged in special aseptic plastic to prevent any contamination until the time of use.

In short, sterile techniques are used to make objects or spaces clean, while aseptic techniques are used to prevent future contamination.