Image: The Fraunhofer instrument handle with integrated torsion LED indicator light (Photo courtesy of Fraunhofer IPA).
An innovative vulcanized instrument handle that visually indicates torque force will make precision surgeries easier to conduct.
Developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA, Stuttgart, Germany), and Weber Instrumente (Emmingen-Liptingen, Germany), the new instrument handle contains integrated electronic sensors that measure the applied force, providing the surgeon feedback during the procedure. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) embedded in transparent silicon sections of the handle flash to indicate that the optimal torsional moment has been reached. Future enhancements will include a wireless interface, so that the sensor data can be transmitted to a PC, thus allowing the surgical process to be documented.
The nine-centimeter handle is designed so that various surgical tools, such as screwdrivers or spreaders, can be screwed into it. All of the electronics—including the sensors, assessment, and LEDs—are installed in the handle, so that there is no split or seam present that would enable germs to penetrate and proliferate. Power is supplied and stored via an inductive charging process or a coil system. The instrument handle can be sterilized at 134 degrees Celsius, and since the electronics are switched off in the sterilization process, it can withstand the high temperatures undamaged.
“Previously, surgical instruments had no electronics inside; the heat would have rendered them inoperative,” said Christof Giers, a scientist at IPA, adding that “it is primarily the young, less experienced surgeons with little surgical practice who benefit the most from this technology.”
Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation