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Publication numberUS20050033246 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/913,565
Publication dateFeb 10, 2005
Filing dateAug 5, 2004
Priority dateMay 14, 2002
Also published asCA2533204A1, EP1651094A2, EP1651094A4, US8703034, US20110316190, US20140224416, WO2005013803A2, WO2005013803A3, WO2005013803A9
Publication number10913565, 913565, US 2005/0033246 A1, US 2005/033246 A1, US 20050033246 A1, US 20050033246A1, US 2005033246 A1, US 2005033246A1, US-A1-20050033246, US-A1-2005033246, US2005/0033246A1, US2005/033246A1, US20050033246 A1, US20050033246A1, US2005033246 A1, US2005033246A1
InventorsRussell Ahlberg, Payam Adlparvar, Scott Taylor, Matthew Wixey, Daniel Martinez, John Brustad
Original AssigneeAhlberg Russell E., Payam Adlparvar, Taylor Scott V., Wixey Matthew A., Daniel Martinez, Brustad John R.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Surgical device with tack-free gel and method of manufacture
US 20050033246 A1
Abstract
A process of making a tack-free gel is disclosed comprising the steps of providing a mold defining a mold cavity, the mold cavity comprising a plastic material; pouring or injecting a molten gel having a high molding temperature into the mold cavity; and forming the tack-free gel as a thin layer of plastic of the mold cavity is melted over the gel. The forming step further comprises cooling the gel from the molten state to a solidified state. The melting temperature of the plastic material is lower than the molding temperature of the gel; and the higher the temperature differential, the greater the melting of the plastic material and the thicker the layer of the plastic material on the surface of the gel. The mold may be formed of low-density polyethylene (LDPE). With the process of the invention, the heat of the molten gel at its molding temperature is transferred to the surface of the LDPE mold so as to melt a thin layer of the LDPE. The mold may comprise a mold base having a plurality of mold holes forming a plurality of mold cavities, each of the mold holes comprising an axial pin to mold an axial hole through a center of the gel, an LDPE cylinder providing a predetermined inside diameter for the mold, and an LDPE disc mounted on the axial pin and disposed at the bottom of each mold cavity in the mold base. The process may further comprise the step of dabbing the gel in a low-friction powder such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and a lubricant. The mold may further comprise a mold top disposed axially of the mold base and comprises a plurality of holes forming a plurality of cavities, each of the mold top holes is adapted to receive the LDPE cylinder, and a second LDPE disc disposed at the top of each mold cavity of the mold top.
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Claims(49)
1. A method of making a tack-free gel, comprising the steps of:
providing a mold defining a mold cavity, the mold cavity comprising a plastic material;
pouring or injecting a molten gel having a high molding temperature into the mold cavity; and
forming the tack-free gel as a thin layer of plastic of the mold cavity is melted over the gel.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the mold providing step further comprises the step of injecting or spraying the mold cavity with the plastic material.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the forming step further comprises cooling the gel from the molten state to a solidified state.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein a melting temperature of the plastic material is lower than the molding temperature of the gel.
5. The method of claim 4, wherein the difference in the melting temperature of the plastic material and the molding temperature of the gel is in a range of about 20 F. to about 100 F.
6. The method of claim 4, wherein the higher the temperature differential, the greater the melting of the plastic material and the thicker the melted layer of the plastic material on the surface of the gel.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the gel molding temperature is about 450 F.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the mold is formed of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and having a melting temperature of about 240 F.
9. The method of claim 8, wherein the heat of the molten gel at its molding temperature is transferred to a surface of the LDPE mold so as to melt a thin layer of the LDPE.
10. The method of claim 9, further comprising the step of cooling the molten gel and melted LDPE so as to form a non-tacky surface on the solidified gel.
11. The method of claim 10, wherein the solidified gel has a cylindrical shape having a first opposing end, a second opposing end and a cylindrical body.
12. The method of claim 1, wherein the mold comprises a mold base having:
a plurality of mold holes forming a plurality of mold cavities, each of the mold holes comprising an axial pin to mold an axial hole through a center of the gel;
a low-density polyethylene (LDPE) cylinder providing a predetermined inside diameter for the mold; and
an LDPE disc mounted on the axial pin and disposed at the bottom of each mold cavity in the mold base.
13. The method of claim 12, wherein each of the mold cavities includes a disposable plastic liner.
14. The method of claim 12, wherein the LPDE cylinder is replaced after each molding process.
15. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of dabbing at least one of the opposing ends in a low-friction powder.
16. The method of claim 15, wherein the low-friction powder includes at least one of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and a lubricant.
17. The method of claim 12, wherein the mold further comprises a mold top disposed axially of the mold base and comprising:
a plurality of holes forming a plurality of cavities, each of the mold top holes is adapted to receive the LDPE cylinder; and
a second LDPE disc disposed at the top of each mold cavity of the mold top.
18. The method of claim 1, wherein the plastic is formed from at least one of PVC, ABS, acrylic, polycarbonate, clear polycarbonate, Delrin, acetal, polypropylene and high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
19. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of tumbling or coating the gel in a lubricious material.
20. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of applying a lubricious coating to the gel in a vacuum deposition process.
21. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of dipping the gel in a lubricious material.
22. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of spraying the solidified gel with a lubricious material.
23. The method of any one of claims 19-22, wherein the lubricious material includes Parylene.
24. A method of making a tack-free gel by co-extrusion, comprising the steps of:
extruding an elongate sleeve formed of a plastic material around a molten gel having a high molding temperature, the elongate sleeve having an axis and a diameter;
pressurizing the molten gel to control the diameter of the filled elongate sleeve; and
cooling the filled elongate sleeve to form the tack-free gel.
25. The method of claim 24, wherein the plastic material is low-density polyethylene (LDPE).
26. The method of claim 24, further comprising the step of radially cutting the elongate sleeve into individual segments having predetermined lengths.
27. The method of claim 24, further comprising the step of removing the gel by squeezing the sleeve and pulling the gel from the sleeve.
28. The method of claim 27, wherein the gel has a cylindrical shape having a first opposing end, a second opposing end and a cylindrical body.
29. The method of claim 28, further comprising the step of dabbing at least one of the opposing ends in a low-friction powder.
30. The method of claim 29, wherein the low-friction powder includes at least one of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and a lubricant.
31. The method of claim 24, further comprising the step of tumbling or coating the gel in a lubricious material.
32. The method of claim 24, further comprising the step of applying a lubricious coating to the gel in a vacuum deposition process.
33. The method of claim 24, further comprising the step of dipping the gel in a lubricious material.
34. The method of claim 24, further comprising the step of spraying the gel with a lubricious material.
35. The method of any one of claims 31-34, wherein the lubricious material includes Parylene.
36. A trocar adapted to provide access for a surgical instrument through a body wall and into a body cavity, comprising:
a cannula having a proximal end and a distal end;
a seal housing communicating with the cannula to define a working channel;
a seal assembly disposed within the seal housing;
at least one roller included in the seal assembly and having an axle supported by the seal housing; and
the roller having a tack-free surface and properties for forming a zero seal in the absence of the instrument, and an instrument seal in the presence of the instrument.
37. The trocar recited of claim 36, wherein the roller is pivotal with the axle relative to the seal housing.
38. The trocar recited of claim 36, wherein the tack-free surface is formed of LDPE.
39. The trocar recited of claim 38, wherein the roller further comprises a lubricious coating.
40. The trocar recited of claim 39, wherein the lubricious coating includes at least one of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) low-friction powder or a lubricant including Parylene.
41. A medical access device, comprising:
a tubular member having an elongate configuration;
at least one wall defining with the tubular member a working channel sized and configured to receive an instrument; and
a gel disposed in the working channel and being adapted to form a seal with any instrument disposed in the working channel,
wherein the gel includes a non-tacky film to facilitate movement of any instrument through the working channel.
42. The medical access device of claim 41, wherein the film is formed by a fluoropolymer including polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
43. The medical access device of claim 42, wherein the non-tacky film is applied as a powder or as a tape over the gel.
44. The medical access device of claim 41, wherein the gel and non-tacky film have properties including an elongation up to about 1500 percent.
45. The medical access device of claim 41, wherein the gel is coated with a lubricant including Parylene.
46. A surgical handport facilitating a sealing relationship with a surgeon's arm extending through the handport and into an incision in an abdominal wall of a patient, comprising:
a valve structure comprising only a single valve disposed relative to the incision in the abdominal wall, the single valve having a first state in the absence of the arm of the surgeon extending through the valve structure, and a second state in the presence of the arm of the surgeon extending through the valve structure;
means for coupling the valve structure to the abdominal wall in a sealing relationship with the abdominal wall around the incision;
the single valve in the first state forming a zero seal in the absence of the arm of the surgeon extending through the valve structure; and
the single valve structure in the second state forming an arm seal with the arm of the surgeon in the presence of the arm of the surgeon extending through the handport,
wherein the single valve includes a non-tacky film to facilitate movement of the arm of the surgeon through the handport.
47. The surgical handport of claim 46, wherein the valve structure further comprises:
a gel;
at least portions of the gel partially define an opening through the valve structure; and
the opening defining portions of the gel having properties in the first state for sealing the opening in the absence of the arm of the surgeon extending through the opening.
48. The surgical handport of claim 46, wherein the zero seal and the arm seal have properties for inhibiting the escape of liquids and gases through the single seal.
49. The surgical handport of claim 46, wherein the coupling means includes an adhesive having properties for attaching the valve structure to the abdominal wall.
Description
  • [0001]
    This is a continuation-in-part application claiming the priority of provisional application Ser. No. 60/492,949, filed on Aug. 6, 2003, entitled “Surgical Device With Tack-Free Gel and Method of Manufacture,” and of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/776,387, filed on Feb. 10, 2004, entitled “Access Sealing Apparatus and Method,” which claims priority to PCT application Serial No. PCT/US02/15696, filed on May 14, 2002, entitled “Access Sealing Apparatus and Method,” and to provisional application Ser. No. 60/312,683, filed on Aug. 14, 2001, entitled “Access Sealing Apparatus and Method,” all of which are fully incorporated herein by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0003]
    This invention generally relates to gels having tacky surfaces and, more specifically, to surface treatments which will render the gel tack-free.
  • [0004]
    2. Discussion of Related Art
  • [0005]
    A “gel” is often defined as a semisolid condition of a precipitated or coagulated colloid. Within this definition, gels can differ widely. On one end of the spectrum gels are more fluid in nature but have some solid properties. An example of such a gel might be a gel toothpaste. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the gels are considered solids with some fluid properties.
  • [0006]
    It is toward this end of the spectrum that gels are commonly used to facilitate load distribution. Gels enhance this function by offering a high degree of compliance which basically increases the amount of area available to support a load. With an increased area of support, the load is accommodated at a considerably reduced pressure. Particularly where the human body is involved, a reduced pressure is desirable in order to maintain capillary blood flow in body tissue. It is with this in mind that gels are commonly used for bicycle seats, wrist pads, insole supports, as well as elbow and shoulder pads.
  • [0007]
    While the advantageous properties of gels have made them candidates for many applications, one disadvantage has seriously limited their use. Most gels are extremely tacky. This characteristic alone makes them difficult to manufacture and aggravating to use.
  • [0008]
    Attempts have been made to produce gels that are naturally non-tacky. But such attempts unfortunately have resulted in an intolerable sacrifice of the advantageous properties. Attempts have been made to enclose the gels in a non-tacky pouch. This has also tended to mask the advantageous properties and to significantly increase manufacturing costs. Powders and lubricants have been applied to the tacky surfaces with results limited in both duration and effect.
  • [0009]
    Gels have also been of particular interest in the formation of seals where the high compliance and extensive elongation of the gel are of considerable value. Such is the case with seals used in trocars and other surgical access devices, where a seal must be formed both in the presence of a surgical instrument and in the absence of a surgical instrument.
  • [0010]
    In general, a trocar is a surgical device intended to provide tubular access for surgical instruments across a body wall, such as the abdominal wall, and into a body cavity, such as the abdominal cavity. Often, the body cavity is pressurized with a gas, typically carbon dioxide, to enlarge the operative volume of the working environment. Under these conditions, the trocar must include appropriate seals to inhibit loss of the pressurizing gas through the trocar. Thus, a zero seal must be provided to seal the working channel of the trocar in the absence of the instrument, and an instrument seal must be provided to seal the working channel in the presence of the instrument.
  • [0011]
    Most recently, both zero seals and instrument seals have been provided by a pair of rollers disposed on opposing sides of the working channel. The rollers have been formed of a gel material providing a high degree of compliance, significant tear strength and exceptional elongation. As noted, however, the best gel materials tend to exhibit surfaces that are very tacky. The use of a tacky gel can make the processes of manufacturing and using the gel seals extremely difficult. The disadvantages are increasing in this application, where a tacky gel also produces significant drag forces during instrument insertion. Furthermore, the tacky surfaces tend to draw and retain particulate matter during the manufacturing and handling processes. For these reasons it has been even more desirable to render the highly tacky gel surfaces non-tacky in the case of medical devices such as trocars.
  • [0012]
    Many attempts have been made to facilitate handling the rollers during manufacture and to lower instrument drag forces during use. For example, use of lubricants such as silicone oil, KY jelly, and Astroglide, have been applied to the surface to reduce tackiness. Unfortunately, these lubricants tend to dry out over time leaving the gel in its natural tacky state. Non-tacky gels have also been investigated. The non-tacky gels, however, are not particularly heat tolerant, as low amounts of heat can rapidly cause the materials to take a set and distort particularly under compressive loads. This can occur over an extended period of time, for example, even at normal room temperatures.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0013]
    In accordance with the present invention, a gel material having all of the advantageous properties previously discussed is further blessed with a non-tacky surface that can be provided at the earliest possible opportunity, during the molding step of the manufacturing process. From the time when the molten gel material first achieves its solid characteristics, it is provided with a non-tacky surface. In the case of a trocar seal, significant drag forces are avoided during the process of instrument insertion. Moreover, the advantages of high compliance, significant tear strength, and exceptional elongation are maintained without any of the disadvantages associated with a tacky device.
  • [0014]
    In a first aspect of the invention, a process of making a tack-free gel is disclosed comprising the steps of providing a mold defining a mold cavity, the mold cavity comprising a plastic material; pouring or injecting a molten gel having a high molding temperature into the mold cavity; and forming the tack-free gel as a thin layer of plastic of the mold cavity is melted over the gel. More specifically, the forming step further comprises cooling the gel from the molten state to a solidified state. The mold providing step may further comprise the step of injecting or spraying the mold cavity with the plastic material. It is appreciated that the melting temperature of the plastic material is lower than the molding temperature of the gel and, in this aspect, the difference in the melting temperature of the plastic material and the molding temperature of the gel is in a range of about 20 F. to about 100 F. It should be noted that the higher the temperature differential, the greater the melting of the plastic material and the thicker the layer of the plastic material on the surface of the gel.
  • [0015]
    The mold may be formed of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and has a melting temperature of about 240 F. With the process of the invention, the heat of the molten gel at its molding temperature is transferred to the surface of the LDPE mold so as to melt a thin layer of the LDPE. The solidified gel may be a cylindrical shape having a first opposing end, a second opposing end and a cylindrical body. The mold may comprise a mold base having a plurality of mold holes forming a plurality of mold cavities, each of the mold holes comprising an axial pin to mold an axial hole through a center of the gel, an LDPE cylinder providing a predetermined inside diameter for the mold, and an LDPE disc mounted on the axial pin and disposed at the bottom of each mold cavity in the mold base. After each molding process, the LPDE cylinder may be replaced. The process of the invention may further comprise the step of dabbing at least one of the opposing ends in a low-friction powder such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and a lubricant. In another aspect, the mold may further comprise a mold top disposed axially of the mold base and comprises a plurality of holes forming a plurality of cavities, each of the mold top holes is adapted to receive the LDPE cylinder, and a second LDPE disc disposed at the top of each mold cavity of the mold top.
  • [0016]
    In another aspect of the invention, the plastic material may be formed from at least one of PVC, ABS, acrylic, polycarbonate, clear polycarbonate, Delrin, acetal, polypropylene and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The process of the invention may further comprise the step of tumbling or coating the gel in a lubricious material, applying a lubricious coating to the gel in a vacuum deposition process, dipping the gel in a lubricious material, or spraying the solidified gel with a lubricious material to further facilitate the non-tackiness surface of the gel. The lubricious material includes Parylene.
  • [0017]
    In yet another aspect of the invention, a process of making a tack-free gel by co-extrusion is disclosed comprising the steps of extruding an elongate sleeve formed of a plastic material around a molten gel having a high molding temperature, the elongate sleeve having an axis and a diameter; pressurizing the molten gel to control the diameter of the filled elongate sleeve; and cooling the filled elongate sleeve to form the tack-free gel. The plastic material of the elongate sleeve may be low-density polyethylene (LDPE). The process may further comprise the step of radially cutting the elongate sleeve into individual segments having predetermined lengths, and removing the gel by squeezing the sleeve and pulling the gel from the sleeve. With this aspect of the invention, the gel may have a cylindrical shape having a first opposing end, a second opposing end and a cylindrical body. The process may further comprise the step of dabbing at least one of the opposing ends in a low-friction powder, which may include at least one of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and a lubricant, tumbling or coating the gel in a lubricious material, applying a lubricious coating to the gel in a vacuum deposition process, dipping the gel in a lubricious material, or spraying the gel with a lubricious material. The lubricious material includes Parylene.
  • [0018]
    Another aspect of the invention is directed to a trocar being adapted to provide access for a surgical instrument through a body wall and into a body cavity, the trocar comprising a cannula having a proximal end and a distal end, a seal housing communicating with the cannula to define a working channel, a seal assembly disposed within the seal housing, at least one roller included in the seal assembly and having an axle supported by the seal housing, and the roller having a tack-free surface and properties for forming a zero seal in the absence of the instrument, and an instrument seal in the presence of the instrument. With this aspect, the roller is pivotal with the axle relative to the seal housing. The tack-free surface may be formed of LDPE, and the roller may further comprise a lubricious coating including at least one of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) low-friction powder or a lubricant including Parylene.
  • [0019]
    In a final aspect, a medical access device is disclosed comprising a tubular member having an elongate configuration, at least one wall defining with the tubular member a working channel sized and configured to receive an instrument, and a gel disposed in the working channel and being adapted to form a seal with any instrument disposed in the working channel, wherein the gel includes a non-tacky film to facilitate movement of any instrument through the working channel. It is appreciated that the film may be formed by a fluoropolymer including polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). The non-tacky film may be applied as a powder or as a tape over the gel. It is further appreciated that the gel and non-tacky film may have properties including an elongation up to about 1500 percent, and that the gel may be coated with a lubricant including Parylene.
  • [0020]
    These and other features of the invention will become more apparent with a description of the various embodiments and reference to the associated drawings.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0021]
    The accompanying drawings, which are included in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate the embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, explain the features and principles of the invention. In the drawings:
  • [0022]
    FIG. 1 a is a side elevation view partially in cross-section of a trocar with a roller seal assembly;
  • [0023]
    FIG. 1 b is a side elevation view of the trocar illustrated in FIG. 1 a;
  • [0024]
    FIG. 2 a is a perspective view of a plastic mold with multiple mold cavities;
  • [0025]
    FIG. 2 b is a perspective view of a gel roller with an outer layer of mold plastic;
  • [0026]
    FIG. 2 c is a perspective view of a metal mold and multiple cylinders and discs each associated with an individual mold cavity;
  • [0027]
    FIG. 2 d is a perspective view showing the mold cylinders disposed in the mold base;
  • [0028]
    FIG. 3 is a side elevation view illustrating a step of dabbing a tacky gel surface into powder;
  • [0029]
    FIG. 4 is a side elevation view similar to FIG. 1 b and illustrating a single low friction disc mounted between a tacky roller surface and the seal housing;
  • [0030]
    FIG. 5 is a schematic view illustrating co-extrusion of an LDPE sleeve and a gel;
  • [0031]
    FIG. 6 is a perspective view of base and top molds used in an injection molding operation;
  • [0032]
    FIG. 7 illustrates a method for applying a coating by vacuum deposition;
  • [0033]
    FIG. 8 is a perspective view illustrating application of a coating in a dipping process;
  • [0034]
    FIG. 9 is a perspective view illustrating application of a coating by spraying;
  • [0035]
    FIG. 10 is a perspective view illustrating an application of a coating by tumbling;
  • [0036]
    FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a hand port wherein a gel seal is overlayed with a fluoropolymer film; and
  • [0037]
    FIG. 12 is a cross-section view taken along lines 12-12 of FIG. 11.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0038]
    A trocar is illustrated in FIG. 1 and designated by the reference numeral 10. The trocar 10 is an access device commonly used in surgeries to provide a working channel 12 across a body wall and into a body cavity. The working channel 12 in this case is defined by a cannula 14 and a seal housing 16. Within the seal housing, a seal apparatus 18 is formed by a pair of opposing rollers 21 and 23. These rollers 21 and 23 are typically formed of a gel material 30 that provides the seal apparatus 18 with a high degree of compliance, significant tear strength and exceptional elongation. In this case, the gel rollers 21 and 23 are merely representative of any gel structure adapted for use in a medical device, such as the trocar 10.
  • [0039]
    The gel materials contemplated for the rollers 21 and 23 typically have a high melting temperature and exhibit a tacky surface as previously discussed. These two properties, normally considered disadvantages, become advantages in a method of manufacture of the invention. In this case, the gel at a high molding temperature and liquid state, is brought into contact with a plastic molding material having a melting temperature less than the molding temperature of the gel 30.
  • [0040]
    A roller mold 25 is illustrated in FIG. 2 a with a plurality of mold cavities or holes 27. In this case, the mold 25 is formed entirely of a plastic material 26 which defines each of the cylindrical mold cavities 27. The gel 30 in its high temperature liquid state is poured into each of the mold holes 27 to form one of the rollers 21, 23. At the high molding temperature, the gel 30 initially melts a thin layer 32 of the mold plastic 26 which cools onto the gel surface as illustrated in FIG. 2 b. In this process, it is believed that the tacky properties of the gel 30 attract and hold this thin layer 32 of plastic thereby resulting in a non-tacky surface on the gel 30.
  • [0041]
    With the process of the invention, it is desirable that the melting temperature of the plastic material 26 be only slightly lower than the molding temperature of the gel 30. In one aspect, the differential in temperature is in a range of about 20 F. to about 100 F. It is anticipated that the higher this temperature differential, the greater the melting of the plastic material, thereby resulting in a thicker layer of the plastic material on the surface of the gel.
  • [0042]
    In one example, a gel can be chosen with a gel molding temperature of about 450 F. A mold 25 formed of a non-metal, plastic material such as low-density polyethylene (LDPE) having a melting temperature of about 240 F. is particularly suited for this process. With the mold at room temperature, and the liquid gel heated to its molding temperature, the gel can be poured into the mold cavities. During and after this molding step, the heat of the liquid gel at its molding temperature is transferred to the surface of the plastic mold and in fact melts a thin layer of the LDPE. At this point, the mold 25 and gel 30 rapidly cool and the melted LDPE forms the thin layer 32 on the outer surface of the solidified gel 30. As the gel solidifies, its naturally tacky surface attracts and holds the thin LDPE layer 32 to the outer surface. This thin layer 32 of LDPE provides the resulting gel roller 21 with a non-tacky surface.
  • [0043]
    Using the mold formed entirely of the LDPE plastic will gradually increase the size of the mold cavities 27 as succeeding interior layers 32 of the LDPE are removed from the mold cavities 27. One way of addressing this problem is to provide a mold base 41 having a plurality of mold holes 43 as illustrated in FIG. 2 c. In this case, the mold holes 43 are formed with an axial pin 45 which can be used to mold an axial hole through the center of the roller 21. Each of the mold holes 43 in the base 41 can then be lined with an LDPE cylinder 47 providing a predetermined inside diameter for the mold. In addition, an LDPE disc 50 can be mounted on the pin 45 and disposed in the bottom of each mold cavity 43 in the base 41. In this case, the cylinder 47 and disc 50 provide the preferred mold cavities 27 formed of LDPE and ready to receive the gel 30.
  • [0044]
    With this mold base 41 appropriately filled with the LDPE cylinders 47 and discs 50, the molten gel 30 can be poured into the top of each cylinder 47 to mold each roller 21 with a cylindrical outer surface 52 and an axial pin 45. In the manner previously discussed, the high temperature of the molten gel will melt a layer off the inside of the LDPE cylinder 47 and disc 50 to provide a non-tacky surface on each roller 21. One advantage provided by the method illustrated in FIG. 3 is that the LDPE cylinders 47 can be discarded after each molding process and replaced with new LDPE cylinders 47 having the predetermined diameter.
  • [0045]
    It will be noted that in the absence of an LDPE disc on the top of the mold cavity, one end 56 of the roller 21 will maintain its tacky properties. Although the single tacky end 56 may not be particularly detrimental in use, there are several methods that can be implemented to make the tacky end 56 less tacky. For example, this end 56 can be dabbed in a low friction powder 57, such as PTFE, as shown in FIG. 3. Also, the tacky end 56 can be lubricated to make it less tacky. As a third alternative, the tacky end 56 of the roller 21 can be mounted in the trocar 10 adjacent to a low friction disc 58 as illustrated in FIG. 4.
  • [0046]
    An alternative method for constructing the rollers 21, 23 with a non-tacky surface might involve the use of co-extrusion techniques. In such a process, illustrated in FIG. 5, an elongate sleeve 61 of LDPE can be extruded around the molten gel 30. In this case, the gel 30 can be pressurized to control the diameter of the filled sleeve 61. After the filled sleeve 61 is permitted to cool, it can be radially cut into individual segments 62 having a predetermined length as illustrated in FIG. 5. The gel 30 can be removed by merely squeezing the sleeve 61 and pulling the gel 30 from the sleeve. Once removed, the gel roller 21 will have an outer cylindrical surface 63 with an LDPE coating 65, and a pair of opposing ends 67 and 70. In this process, both of the ends 67 and 70 of the roller 21 will be uncoated and will therefore have tacky surfaces. These two ends 67, 70 can be addressed in the manner previously discussed with reference to the roller end 56 in FIG. 3.
  • [0047]
    Another process which might be used to eliminate the tacky ends of the roller 21, might be an injection molding process such as that illustrated in FIG. 6. In this case both a mold base 72 and a mold top 74 are provided to receive an LDPE cylinder 74 and a pair of LDPE discs 76 and 78, one on each end of the cylinder 74. Rather than pouring the molten gel 30 into the open top of the cylinder as illustrated in FIG. 2, the molten gel 30 in this process would be injected into the LDPE mold cavity 43. The resulting gel roller 21 would have all of its surfaces, including both ends, coated with a thin layer of LPDE.
  • [0048]
    The foregoing processes have been discussed with respect to a single plastic, namely low density polyethylene. It is apparent that other types of plastics might be similarly used to provide the desired non-tacky surface for the gel compounds. Other plastics which might be of advantage in this process could include for example, PVC, ABS, acrylic, polycarbonate, clear polycarbonate, “Delrin” (a trademark of Dupont), acetyl, polypropylene, and high density polyethylene (HDPE). Of this group of plastics, the HDPE appears to reduce the tackiness of the gel surface to the greatest extent.
  • [0049]
    Other types of coatings can be applied to either a tacky or non-tacky surface of the roller 21. One highly lubricious coating is that manufactured and sold by Para Tech Coating, Inc. under the trademark “Parylene”. It has been found that this material can be applied to the surface of the roller 21 by processes including vacuum deposition in a chamber 81 (FIG. 7), dipping on a tray 83 (FIG. 8) and spraying on a shelf 85 (FIG. 9). A highly lubricious coating, such as Parylene may also be applied in a tumbler 87 as illustrated in FIG. 10. In this case, the rollers 21, 23 being tumbled must already have a non-tacky surface in order to remain separate during the tumbling process.
  • [0050]
    Another apparatus and method for addressing the natural tacky properties of a gel seal is discussed with reference to FIG. 11. In this view, a medical device in the form of a hand port is adapted to overlay a body wall, such as an abdominal wall 92, and to provide sealed access to a body cavity, such as an abdominal cavity 93, for a surgical instrument, such as a surgeon's hand 94.
  • [0051]
    In this embodiment, the hand port 90 includes a rigid or semi-rigid base structure 96 in the form of a ring 98. A gel material 101, of the types previously discussed, can be molded into the ring 98 with portions 103 of the gel 101 defining a slit 105. This slit 105, which is of particular interest in one aspect of the invention, forms part of a working channel 107 that extends through the abdominal wall 92 and into the abdominal cavity 93.
  • [0052]
    In this embodiment, the ring 98 is similar to the cannula 14 and seal housing 16 discussed with reference to FIG. 1 a, in that it is disposed around the working channel 107 and is adapted to form a seal 110 with the abdominal wall 92.
  • [0053]
    A second seal 112 is formed between the gel material 101 and the ring 98 so there is no communication between the abdominal cavity 93 and regions exterior of the abdominal wall 92 as long as the slit 105 remains closed. In this manner, the hand port 90 functions as a zero seal in the absence of the surgeon's hand 94, or any other medical instrument.
  • [0054]
    The highly advantageous properties of the gel material 101 are particularly beneficial in the hand port 90, where they provide a high degree of compliance together with elongation or stretch as great as 1500 percent. Thus, the gel material 101 is ideally suited to form a zero seal in the absence of the surgeon's hand 94, or an instrument seal in the presence of the surgeon's hand 94. It can be seen that the gel material 101 is similar to that previously discussed with respect to the rollers 21 and 23 in FIG. 1 a. In that regard, the gel material 101 is disposed in the base structure and forms the second seal 112 with the base structure. The gel material 101 will typically have the tacky properties in its natural state, as previously discussed.
  • [0055]
    In order to address these tacky properties in the hand port 90, and also with respect to the trocar 10 of FIG. 1 a, a film 14 can be applied to the surface of the gel material 101. This is particularly advantageous with respect to the portions 103 where the film 114 lines the working channel 107 through the hand port 90. When the film 114 is applied to any surface of the gel material 101, it functions to mask the tacky properties of the gel material 101 greatly facilitating handling of the hand port 90 during manufacture. But in the particular location where the film 114 is applied to the portions 103 defining the slit 105, the gel not only masks the tacky properties, but also facilitates movement of the medical instrument such as the surgeon's hand 94 into and through the working channel 107. In certain preferred embodiments, the film 114 is formed by a fluoropolymer, such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). In one method of manufacture, the film 114 is applied as a PTFE powder. In other processes, the film 114 can be applied as a PTFE tape.
  • [0056]
    One advantage associated with the PTFE film 114 is the adhesive properties which this material exhibits with respect to the gel material 101. Although not fully understood, it is believed that the mineral oil present in a typical gel 101 is highly attracted to the PTFE where it facilitates adhesion between the gel material 101 and the film 114.
  • [0057]
    Another advantage associated with the PTFE film 114 is associated with its stretchability or elasticity. While the film 114 is desirable to mask the tacky properties of the gel 105, it is important that the elongation properties of the gel be maintained. It has been found that the elongation of the gel material 101, up to 1500 percent, is generally matched by the elongation or stretchability of the PTFE film 114. Thus, the gel 101 and PTFE film 114 can be stretched about 1000 percent, and perhaps as much as 1500 percent, from an original state to a stretched state without breaking the film 114, and returned from the stretched state to the original state.
  • [0058]
    Although the PTFE film 114 masks the tacky properties of the gel, it is not necessarily lubricious. If this lubricious property is desired in addition to the non-tacky properties, the film 114 can be coated with a lubricant 116, such as the Parylene and other lubricants previously discussed.
  • [0059]
    It will be understood that many other modifications can be made to the various disclosed embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For these reasons, the above description should not be construed as limiting the invention, but should be interpreted as merely exemplary of embodiments.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification604/264
International ClassificationA61B17/34, A61B17/00, A61B17/22, B29C39/00, B29C39/12
Cooperative ClassificationB29C39/025, A61B2017/22067, A61M3/0279, A61B17/3498, A61B17/3423, A61B2017/00469, A61B17/3462, B29C39/006, B29C39/123, B29C37/0067
European ClassificationA61B17/34H, A61B17/34G4A, A61B17/34V, B29C39/00B2, B29C39/12B, B29C39/02B3
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 30, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: APPLIED MEDICAL RESOURCES CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:AHLBERG, RUSSELL E.;ADLPARVAR, PAYAM;TAYLOR, SCOTT V.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015090/0469;SIGNING DATES FROM 20040805 TO 20040818