Surgeons have to operate with the utmost precision, and manipulating surgical instruments requires acute sensitivity. Now a new vulcanized handle, which can be fitted to surgical tools such as screwdrivers and retractors, has been designed to help surgeons during operations.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have developed the device in cooperation with a industrial partner. Thanks to integrated electronic components, surgeons receive feedback during operations as to whether they can insert the instrument any further. When a surgeon tightens a screw, for example, sensors measure the amount of force expended. LEDs indicate by means of an optical signal when the optimum torque has been reached. The energy required is supplied and stored via an inductive charging method. Young, less experienced surgeons stand to gain the most from this technology.
The entire electronics including sensors, evaluation technology, and LEDs is cast inside the handle. This means there is no gap in which germs could settle. Another special feature is that the instrument handle can be sterilized at 134 degrees Celsius. As the electronics is switched off during the sterilization process, it comes through the high temperatures unscathed. The researchers also want to expand the system to include a wireless interface for transmitting the sensor data to a PC, permitting the operation to be documented in detail.
COMPAMED.de; Quelle: Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA