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Manual Irrigation vs Machine Irrigation

Pros and cons of both methods.

Appropriate bur/drill cooling during implant site preparation and bone cutting oral surgery procedures is necessary in order to protect the bone and facilitate better healing results. Manual irrigation, as the name implies, refers to the use of manual syringes, while machine irrigation relies on the use of irrigation tubing connected directly to the handpiece.

Today, we will compare manual and machine irrigation during implant and oral surgery procedures.

1. Accessibility

Machine irrigation allows for superior access to the drilling/cutting site, as the irrigation spray clip (attaching the tubing to the handpiece) is designed to direct external (cooling of the bone surface externally) and/or internal (cooling of the bur) irrigation directly to the drilling site. During a typical surgical procedure, there will be a doctor’s hand holding a handpiece, an additional assistant's hand holding a retractor, and a third hand for suction. In these instances, adding a fourth hand for manual irrigation can overcrowd the patient's mouth and complicate surgical procedures.

2. Flexibility

Machine irrigation only provides irrigation while the drill is operating. Manual irrigation offers greater flexibility, and can provide irrigation at any given time.

3. Set Up 

Both manual and machine irrigation are easy to set up. Since syringes and tubing are disposable, there is very minimal maintenance for both manual and machine irrigation.

4. Control

With the new W&H Implantmed or Elcomed, you can easily adjust the level of irrigation by adjusting the speed of the pump. With manual irrigation, it is easy to stop irrigation when necessary, but more difficult to produce a consistent, strong irrigation flow.

5. Cost

The cost of a single 12cc syringe is around $0.50, compared to the cost of single unit of irrigation tubing at $10-13 each.

At face value, machine irrigation is more expensive. However, you should also consider potential hidden costs associated with insufficient irrigation. For example, if an overheated bur or bone jeopardizes osseointegration, then the hidden cost associated with repeating the surgery will be far greater than that of the tubing itself.

6. Infection Control 

Provided they are used and disposed of properly, both manual irrigation and machine irrigation meet infection control standards.


Clinicians should always choose the irrigation method that best suits their needs. As a best practice, many clinicians rely on machine irrigation as their primary source of irrigation, but keep a manual syringe handy in case the need arises. In this way, they are able to provide the best of both methods and reduce the overall risk of inadequate irrigation.

For more information regarding machine irrigation, please contact our product specialist team by calling 202-331-3061 or through the live chat function on the bottom left of your screen.

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