1. First things first, as soon as the surgery is finished, by using sterile water you need to rinse the phaco handpiece. Around 50cc of sterile water will suffice in combination with air to rinse both exits of the phaco handpiece. Do not use anything metallic to scrub the phaco handpiece. This way all residues will be removed, which can cause a fluidic resistance during your next surgery. This is very important because of the corrosive nature of the fragments of the eye, as well as the BSS (Balanced Salt Solution). Ignoring this and heading your phaco handpiece directly for the autoclave will harden the residue and leave remains.
2. Visual inspection for any obvious defect should be your next step in phaco handpiece care. Any bumps, a loose tip or a broken cord are some details easy to notice. If you find out any of the above maybe it is time to give your phaco handpiece a little touch up.
3. Carefully place the phaco handpiece in a sterilization box and then inside the autoclave. This is probably the biggest mistake doctors do, they do not allow some time for the phaco handpiece to cool down and bring itself at room temperature. This is not a lengthy procedure (should be around 15 minutes), however it is deemed most of the time as too valuable time wasted to wait. If you consider to buy a used phaco handpiece as an extra tool will definately pay off in the long run.
Piezoelectric crystals inside a phaco handpiece are a very vulnerable material and with practices like sinking the warm phaco handpiece into cold water might render them useless.
4. Make sure your phaco handpiece is dried before plugging it in the phacoemulsification equipment. Sounds too obvious not to plug in an electric socket with a wet object, but sometimes it is forgotten. Then you end up with a shorted out phaco handpiece and quite possibly a reschedule of your surgeries.
5. Most importantly refer to manufacturers guide for sterilization and phaco handpiece care. As each company has its peculiarities, they certainly know their products better than anyone else. Some very useful tips and tricks found there can significantly extend your phaco handpiece longevity.
In case all of the above fails, or in the most likely scenario you skip some (or all - we hope not) of the above steps, we are here to help. We can complete rebuild your phaco handpiece and remind you to take a good care of it.