This study intended to verify, through microbiological techniques and TEM investigations, the killing of bacterial spores after treatment in steam autoclave, and to propose strictly morphological considerations about the target of this sterilisation process. Autoclave is the most common device for sterilising instruments in order to prevent cross infections in dental offices. The autoclave efficiency has been improved in the last years and part of this improvement is related to both a better and more correct use of the autoclave system and to the technological innovations introduced in the last generation of devices. However, associations as ADA or CDC suggest to regularly verify the process of 'autoclaving' through biological indicators (BI). The most commonly used BI are made of spores strips or suspensions of Bacillus Subtilis (pb 168) and Bacillus Stearothermophilus (ATCC 10149). They visually prove, changing colours on enzymatic base, the death of micro-organism and if the physical parameters, necessary for sterilisation, have been achieved. These two strains of endospore-forming bacteria were processed and prepared following two different techniques: Karnovsky fixed and epon embedded--phosphotungstic acid fixed for direct observation. The kind and the extent of analysed modifications are extremely various: from deep lacerations, which changed the spore structure, to little clefts which let the cytoplasm go out.
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