X-ray versus gamma irradiation effects on polymers

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Today, the most common methods used for medical device sterilisation are by gaseous ethylene oxide and by electron beam or gamma irradiation. With X-ray sterilisation about to enter the market, its material compatibility needs to be assessed at doses typically encountered during a sterilisation process.

This paper reports on a study that compares the effects of exposing different types of plastics that are commonly used in medical devices to 60Co or to 5 MeV X-rays. The dose rate for both irradiation modalities was of the same order of magnitude. Under these conditions, both types of radiation are found to have similar effects on polymer properties.