In orthopedic surgery, suction devices often become clogged by small bone fragments at the tip, reducing suction power or blocking suction altogether. The process of unclogging stalls the surgery, increases the risk of patient infection, and breaks the surgeon’s concentration.
For this project, our group developed a device that effectively resolves the issue of clogged suction tips. Our design consists of a funnel that guides suction tips to a cone-shaped protrusion, both of which rest on one face of a flat pad. The other side of the base would have an adhesive material that allows for anchorage to the surgical worksite.
Using Solidworks, we designed and 3D printed a prototype of our design. Next, we simulated the suction and clogging that occurs in orthopedic surgeries to test the effectiveness of our device. Our biological debris substitution consisted of crushed chicken bones, corn syrup, flour, and coarse sand. For the suction, we used a lab vacuum apparatus.
Our results revealed that it took roughly 2-3 seconds to unclog the suction tip using our device, less than half the time required for a standard approach using a bovie tip. The device is robust, having successfully unclogged the suction tip in all trials. Our device provides a fast and simple solution to clogged orthopedic suction tips. Future work may focus on developing an unclogging solution for the 10% of orthopedic suction clogs that occur at the junction points between the device and tubing.
(Left to right) Cole Thomson, Janice Chung, Jeffrey Zhang, and Alicia Auduong worked on a self-aligning cleaning attachment to unclog surgical suction devices which become jammed with bone fragments and stall surgery. The team tested their simple and effective solution on crushed chicken bones, corn syrup, flour, and coarse sand, reducing the amount to time to unclog various suction devices by 50%.
Click here to see the group's poster.