Surgeons around the world have come to favor advanced surgical hand tools for their efficiency and positive patient outcomes. In order to control costs, these sophisticated tools are reused several times. Between procedures, the tools require steam sterilization or autoclaving. While Level I surgical centers can afford frequent reuse of high-end surgical tools, this model is often too expensive for smaller-scale Level II and III operations who typically seek less expensive surgical tools that sacrifice performance and reliability.
However, with the right driver, designers can create affordable surgical tools of high quality and durability, empowering cost-sensitive surgical centers to deliver high-end care that saves more lives and improves outcomes for more patients.
Cost-sensitive markets for surgical hand tools
Asia is the main market for cost-sensitive surgical tools. Medical tourism, socio-economic growth and better knowledge of surgical options are increasing the number of surgeries in the region. Additionally, its aging population experiences higher rates of arthritis and other age-related conditions that often require surgery, while younger populations seek more surgical care due to their active lifestyles. . Globally, rural areas are demanding more and cheaper tools, as local hospitals may not have the patient throughput needed to cushion the costs of high-end tools.
Hand-held surgical tool design
Conventional corded and pneumatic hand tools using AC motors are giving way to battery powered tools with lightweight brushed DC or brushless DC (BLDC) motors. However, the low cost brushed DC and BLDC motor options are plagued by performance issues and less durability due to steam sterilization. Because they are also bigger and heavier in order to meet speed and torque needs, they have poor ergonomics, require larger and heavier batteries, and dissipate more heat in the surgeon’s hand.
Without an economical and efficient motor option available, some designers of hand-held surgical tools will choose a motor that will not survive sterilization. They can add a protective seal to the housing of the hand, but this creates bulkier tool designs that are not autoclavable. Unlike other electrical components that the tool designer may be able to protect, a motor has a shaft running through it, which gives moisture a direct path for moisture to reach sensitive electronics. . This route is particularly vulnerable to pressurized steam.
Find motor suppliers with experience in hand-held surgical toolsAn autoclavable motor supplier with experience in the hand-held surgical tool industry knows how to seal the electronic part of the motor to the rotating shaft – a measurement that cannot be made at the tool. By choosing a motor supplier without this experience, the cost savings of using a non-autoclavable motor are usually offset by higher development costs as well as increased costs elsewhere in the tool. Lower durability through autoclaving also results in a higher total cost of ownership for the customer as they have to risk canceling surgeries while replacing a faulty tool or purchasing additional tools as a backup.
Another alternative is to avoid sterilizing the motor by placing it in a part of the tool that is protected from contamination during surgery and then removing it before sterilizing the hand tool. However, this approach is generally considered to be less safe as contaminants can still reach the motor through the coupling to the drill or saw bit. In order to meet Tier-I product safety standards, Tier-II and Tier-III hospitals must switch to fully sterilizable hand tools with fully sterilizable motors.
Autoclavable motion solution options
No matter how many cycles the tool is designed to last, the best way to achieve high safety and reliability over the life of the tool is to use a motor that incorporates strength characteristics. in an autoclave. For tools designed for Tier I markets, premium motor options will include all of the material choices and sealing necessary to maximize tool life through repeated autoclave sterilization. Additional surgeries performed per tool will pay more than the additional purchase price. But for tools targeting Tier-II and Tier-III markets, tool life may be limited for other reasons and the high-end engine features will not yield value. In this case, an engine that offers a selective combination of autoclave resistance characteristics will provide the best results and the lowest cost per surgery.
While this article has focused on the motor, the gears and controls are also degraded by the autoclave and should also be part of the life goal and sterilization protection considerations. A full motion solution provider with experience in the surgical hand tool market will have options for motors, gears, and controllers covering various life goals and cost limits. To get the most out of the vendor’s full product line, customization capabilities, and design consulting expertise, be sure to work with them at the design stage or even the ideation of the development. ‘apparatus.
For more information, contact an engineer.