An Evolution of a Surgical Instrument

It was a beautiful day for a seven year old to play our favorite pastime game, in huge back yard. We just ended a great battle on the field using an old warn out baseball and a dented aluminum bat where the rubber end of it was missing exposing the metal edges. My friend was getting his last swings at home plate and I was still on the pitcher’s mound picking up the ball. All of a sudden, I felt a thud on the side of my head and something warm and wet was pouring down the side of my face. It turned out that the grip slipped away from the bat and flew out of my friend’s hand with the sharp side knocking me in the head. A few hours later, I was on an operating table having my ear lobe sewn back together. It was a strange sensation to feel each incision that reconstructed my ear. You really can’t tell that anything happened to my ear now, unless I pointed out to you.

Now when I think of the designs of Surgical and Dental instruments that the doctor used that day, most likely has remained the same for hundreds of years. So, if by chance one day, you find yourself sitting in the hospital waiting room with others who look worse that you do, and just past the receptionist desk lies a patient patiently awaiting the hands of a competent surgeon on the 5th floor. Think about the design of those interesting looking shiny instruments that can save your life or even make your life better than before. That design that might have saved your great-great-great-great grandmother’s life a long time ago, and still works today!

While innovations such as lasers and robots have occurred, the basic instrument designs have remained the same. For many procedures, the current surgical instrument designs are perfect as they are, and any optimizations would be infinitesimal. It is really revolutionary when a new design is created.

One such new product design is currently being used for gynecological surgeries. For vaginal surgical procedures, the doctor may use a traditional weighted vaginal speculum to keep the vaginal cavity open. There are many limitations to the old design, which makes it very rigid and cumbersome to use. A major issue was that it would slip out, so a surgeon may task one of his/her interns to hold the speculum for hours on end. And when the speculum would slip out, the nurses would need to flash sterilized the speculum which can burn the patient.

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