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Applying Tech: ER and Surgical Devices—Part I

Mon, 10/24/2011 - 11:44am

How are you influencing ER/surgical devices?

Dr. Jose Fernandez Villasenor
Global Medical Product Manager, Freescale

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Surgery has come a long way. It has evolved from traditional surgery with a scalpel to endoscopic and now to robotic and microinvasive surgery. Unlike endoscopic surgery, a physician does not have to be on site for microinvasive surgery. In my experience, I have been. And while this is the new face of surgery, as a surgeon, it isn’t always the easiest. By cutting open a patient, I’m able to get a better look and manipulate and operate more easily, but I have to keep in mind that this may not always be ideal for the patient in terms of their recovery and long-term prognosis.

It will only get better for patients. I see the potential for a huge market for advanced surgery techniques with robots that provide high-definition 3D vision and an easy-to-use interface, enabling a larger view field, smaller surgical incisions, and a reduction in operating time, providing the surgeon with reduced time at the hospital.

As equipment continues to benefit with the aid of constant miniaturization, along with the high speed and reliability of today’s sensors and MCUs, robots in medicine will become more and more a part of the modern operating room. However, an OR will never fully be controlled by robots. As incredible as they are, they can’t make up for the intuition and split-second decision making provided by a real life physician. But I’m still eager to take one for a spin!


Joe Rotino
Vice President of Quality Management and Regulatory Affairs, Pro-Dex Inc.

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Pro-Dex specializes in designing and manufacturing highly reliable powered surgical devices for our OEM partners that will increase efficiency during surgeries and maintain reliability after repeated use. One way we help our OEM partners achieve this is by developing smaller, more sophisticated devices that are lightweight, ergonomic, and have a higher power density. This allowed one customer to bring a hand piece to market that was powerful enough to bridge the gap between different types of surgeries<—from small joint repair to larger procedures<—and do so less invasively. Adding power (battery, electric, or pneumatic) to certain manual devices can also make them easier to use, automating procedures in the process and potentially saving valuable OR time. Additionally, since Pro-Dex warrants and repairs these devices, we strive to obtain materials, components, and methods that reduce failure rates associated with the damaging effects of harsh hospital sterilization processes. Pro-Dex’s goal is to meet customer specifications for reliable, high performing medical devices that optimize the capabilities of the user and improve patient outcomes.

Joe Pustka
Medical Device Leak Testing Technical Support Manager, USON

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While the high price tag for medical technology continues to grab headlines, the REAL ways in which certain healthcare costs have declined due to technical advances doesn’t muster the same attention, but should.

Consider someone coming to the ER with a gallbladder in need of removal, which accounts for a large proportion of the million+ gallbladders removed yearly in the U.S. Twenty years ago, this involved large abdominal incisions and a hospital stay of several days. Not so today, where the lion’s share of cholecystectomies are performed with laparoscopic instruments<—less pain for the patient, speedy recoveries, and minimal hospital stays.

Few patients receiving cholecystectomies or their laparoscopic surgeons realize that they need to thank NASA for making gallbladder removal closer to a non-event. The advanced leak testers required to ensure that trocars and other laparoscopic instruments are leak-proof in insufflated abdominal cavities is actually a later generation of the high accuracy and low cost leak detectors that USON first pioneered for space flights decades ago. With Uson’s lead, what was once a “mission-critical” leak testing requirement to get to outer space has ensured that millions of medical devices are leak-proof that need to be, from cardiac catheters to implanted insulin pumps to trocars and more.


Rod Kleiss
President, Kleiss Gears

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Emergency room equipment includes a wide variety of tools to cut, sew, drip, and drill. Almost all of them need geared transmissions. Of course, the ER staff can work best with the smallest, lightest, quietest, most powerful transmission to do the job. Custom designed and molded plastic gears often fit that bill to a T. Kleiss Gears has developed design algorithms to take advantage of the excellent properties of plastic gears and to minimize their weaknesses. We have specialized micro-molding equipment that enables us to mold extremely accurate gears smaller than the eye can see. Molding the micro-gear is only the first step. One must then measure it. We have the most sensitive and accurate video and contact scanning CMMs to assure micro-molded quality. We also have expertise in molding the strongest engineering polymers, such as PEEK and LCP. Molded plastic gears are changing the landscape for functionality in the ER. Kleiss Gears is leading this new technology.

Dave Bird
Channel Industry Development Manager, Balluff

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In the area of asset management of certain surgical devices and pieces of medical equipment (monitors, reusable instruments/tools, respiratory therapy equipment, pulse oximeters, sterilization carts, etc.), we have integrated/installed small industrial passive inductive RFID tags (data carriers) into the equipment. These RFID tags are extremely robust and durable products that can survive wash down, many different sterilization processes, shock and vibration. Maintenance records, serial numbers, and numbers of uses can all be recorded onto the RFID tags and anything related to the use of the particular E.R. or O.R. asset can be tracked and traced effectively. These industrial systems aren’t like ones typically found in retail store-type settings as the electronic read or read/write distances are relatively small. When a read head comes in proximity to the RFID tag, inductive coupling occurs and information is simply read or the function of reading and writing back and forth to/from the code tag across an air gap is accomplished. No external batteries are necessary in many models of the code tag, so maintenance doesn’t become an issue. These systems are available in many application-specific serial, parallel, or bus network formats.
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