US 20050096548 A1
The invention relates to an apparatus for adjustably securing an ultrasonic transducer to an orthopedic appliance, having: (a) an optional adjustable clamp adapted to adjustably secure the apparatus to an element of an orthopedic appliance; (b) a transducer holder adapted to secure the transducer to the apparatus; (c) an adjustable connector adapted to adjustably connect the optional adjustable clamp to the transducer holder.
1. An apparatus for adjustably securing an ultrasonic transducer to an orthopedic appliance, comprising:
(a) an adjustable clamp adapted to adjustably secure the apparatus to an element of an orthopedic appliance;
(b) a transducer holder adapted to secure the transducer to the apparatus;
(c) an adjustable connector adapted to adjustably connect the adjustable clamp to the transducer holder, wherein the adjustable connector comprises a first leg adapted to mount to the adjustable clamp and second leg adapted to mount to the transducer holder.
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the adjustable clamp comprises one or more hinge elements adapted to be rotatably disposed on a rigid element of an orthopedic appliance and adapted to be moved along a longitudinal axis of the rigid element;
the transducer holder comprises a plate adapted to receive an ultrasonic transducer and mountable on the adjustable connector; and
the adjustable connector comprises an angled plate, wherein the first leg is disposed at an angle to the second leg, and wherein either or both of said legs are adjustably mountable.
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the transducer holder comprises a cap adapted to receive and retain the ultrasonic transducer; and
the adjustable connector comprises a shaft extending from a surface of the cap and adapted to cooperate with a barrel adapted to receive the shaft, and a pin extending from the connector at an angle of around 90° relative to the barrel, wherein the pin is adapted to be adjustably received by the adjustable clamp.
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This application claims benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/242,994, filed Oct. 25, 2000, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to an apparatus for adjustably mounting an ultrasonic transducer to an orthopedic appliance, wherein the transducer can be adjustably positioned in a manner appropriate for ultrasonic therapy.
2. Description of Related Art
The use of ultrasound therapy for the acceleration of healing of bone injuries is known in the art. Similarly, the acceleration of healing of soft tissue injuries, particularly musculoskeletal tissues, by the application of ultrasound has also been described Ultrasonic therapy generally involves placing an ultrasonic transducer, usually associated with a conductive gel or bladder, against or near the skin in the vicinity of the injury, and driving the transducer with a signal generator, so that the transducer delivers ultrasonic waves within a particular range of therapeutically effective frequencies for a period of time and for a sufficient number of applications to achieve effective results in accelerating healing. See, e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,273,864; 6,190,336; 5,762,616; and 5,520,612, the entire contents of each of which are incorporated herein by reference.
Ultrasonic therapy can be particularly useful in treating injuries, such as severe fractures or soft tissue injuries and the like, that require either support or immobilization of a joint or immobilization of bones relative to each other at a fracture site, using some form of orthopedic appliance.
These types of injuries are often treated by the application of a brace, fixator, cage, or other orthopedic appliance to the site of the injury to immobilize the affected area or to limit the range of motion during healing, e.g., occurring after orthopedic surgery. Placement of ultrasonic transducer heads in positions most appropriate for accelerating healing may be impeded by elements of the orthopedic appliance when existing attachment techniques, such as straps or bandages, are used.
In addition, ultrasonic treatment is often of great benefit in speeding healing by patients that have been discharged from the hospital and are convalescing. The frequency of treatments and the difficulty patients often have with locomotion make home treatment desirable. As a result, ultrasonic treatment is often self-administered by the patient following physician instruction in use of the device. However, existing attachment techniques rely on patient compliance in accurately positioning the transducer. Because patients can be inconsistent in positioning the transducer, applying conductive gel to the proper location, etc., there exists a need in the art for a mechanism for adjustably mounting an ultrasonic transducer to an orthopedic appliance so that the transducer can consistently and reliably be brought into contact with the desired treatment site without interfering with or interference from the appliance.
The apparatus of the invention allows an ultrasonic transducer to be secured to an orthopedic appliance in an adjustable fashion, so that the transducer can be consistently and reliably moved into the proper position for treatment, without interference from or interfering with the elements of the orthopedic appliance, and then can be moved out of the way or removed during periods between treatments.
In one embodiment, the invention relates to an apparatus for adjustably securing an ultrasonic transducer to an orthopedic appliance, having:
The configuration of the optional adjustable clamp may take various forms in order to allow the apparatus to be secured to a variety of orthopedic appliances.
As described in more detail below, the apparatus may take the form of one of several alternative embodiments, each of which allow attachment to one or more elements of existing orthopedic appliances, and allow the ultrasonic transducer to be adjustably and reliably positioned relative to the patient.
The apparatus of the invention is intended to be attachable to a variety of orthopedic appliances, ranging from external fixators, such as Ilizarov rings, unilateral fixators, or spatial frames (such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,030,386; 5,971,984; 5,891,143; 5,728,095; and 5,702,389, the entire contents of each of which are incorporated herein by reference), to orthopedic braces and the like. As a result, the particular configuration of the adjustable clamp may be substantially variable. It may be adjustable in the sense that it can be attached to the orthopedic appliance in a variety of locations or positions, or in the sense that the clamp allows movement relative to the element of the orthopedic element to which it is attached, or in the sense that the attachment point of the clamp to the adjustable connector can be varied, or some combination thereof. The adjustable clamp may, in fact, be available or sold with the orthopedic appliance itself, and in that sense is optional.
As an example, when the apparatus of the invention is to be affixed to the ring of an external ring fixator, a fixator clamp, also known as a “Rancho cube,” may be used to adjustably clamp the apparatus to the ring. Another example of an adjustable clamping mechanism includes one or more hinges, which may be used to secure the device to various points on rods or other rigid elements of the orthopedic appliance, such as the rods of a ring fixator. These hinges may allow movement of the adjustable connector relative to the attachment point as the hinges rotate. Other examples of suitable clamps include bolts, screw clamps, spring clamps, standard laboratory clamps, and the like, whose position on the orthopedic appliance may be varied.
The transducer holder is adapted to attach the transducer to the device. It may be removable from the transducer, such as a cap into which the transducer may be inserted, or it may be permanently affixed to the transducer. The transducer holder may be a threaded opening in or threaded stud mounted on a nonoperative surface of the transducer, with which a correspondingly threaded stud or threaded opening on or attached to the adjustable connector may be inserted. Other arrangements include non-threaded openings/studs secured by set screws and the like, ball-and-socket joints affixed to a nonoperative transducer surface, and the like.
The adjustable connector provides, in effect, an adjustable link between the transducer holder and the adjustable clamp. The connector may be adjustable in the sense that the attachment point of the adjustable clamp can be varied, or in the sense that the attachment point of the transducer holder may be varied, or in the sense that the connector itself contains moveable parts whose positioning can be adjusted, or in the sense that the connector allows the transducer and transducer holder to be removed when not in use, or any combination of these. In any event, the connector allows for the position of the transducer holder, and thus of the transducer, to be varied relative to the adjustable clamp.
One example of an adjustable connector is a plate, which may be substantially flat or which may be angled, having one or more slots for adjustable attachment of the adjustable clamp, the transducer holder, or both. Another example is an articulating arm, attached through an adjustable bracket, a threaded stud/opening arrangement, or a ball-and-socket joint, to the transducer holder at one end, and bolted or clamped to an element of the orthopedic appliance at the other end. This articulating arm may be made from a flexible articulated material having a plurality of joints, or may be made from a few rigid elements having swivel joints and lockable slide collars. Another example of an adjustable connector includes a shaft secured to the transducer holder on one end and having an optional handle at the other end, which is disposed in a barrel assembly which allows the shaft to move within the barrel, and which barrel assembly contains a pin which can be adjustably secured by the clamp.
The invention will be further described by reference to certain of its specific embodiments illustrated in the accompanying drawings. This description and the drawings are not intended to be limitative of the appended claims.
Transducer holder 80 comprises a plate affixed to transducer 90 and fastened to second leg 100 of adjustable connector 30 by a fastener 120, which passes through hole 130 in plate 80, and which also passes through slot 110 in second leg 100. The fastener illustrated is a bolt which is secured by a correspondingly threaded nut (not shown) after passing through slot 110. It will be recognized that any fastener that can be tightened, loosened, and retightened securely will function to provide the desired adjustability in securing the transducer holder to the adjustable connector, and in securing the clamp to the adjustable connector. As illustrated, adjustable connector 30 contains an opening 150 to accommodate a cable 140 powering the transducer 90 As illustrated, adjustable connector 30 is a rectangular, angled plate having two legs approximately perpendicular (oriented at about 90°) relative to each other. It will be recognized that other shapes and orientations may be used and still fall within the spirit and scope of the invention. For example plates that are circular or oval or have another geometrical shape, or that are angled at acute or obtuse angles, or that are substantially flat, could also be used in the invention.
An example of an embodiment of the invention using a flat plate 230 as the adjustable connector between transducer holder 240 and clamp 210 is shown in
Also illustrated in
Suitable transducer holders for use in connection with this embodiment of the invention include a ball-and-socket joint affixed to the non-operative surface of the transducer (or to a cap into which the transducer can be inserted), and capable of attachment to, and articulation with, the flexible arm. An alternative embodiment of transducer holder is shown in
As illustrated in
In addition, shaft 410 and barrel 420 may be correspondingly threaded, so that the position of shaft 410 in barrel 420 may be adjusted by rotating shaft 410 relative to barrel 420. Alternatively, as illustrated, adjustable connector 400 may contain a biasing element 440 (illustrated as a coil spring disposed around the shaft 410) to urge the transducer holder away from the barrel and against the body of the patient. Optional handle 450 is provided in the illustrated embodiment for ease of adjustment of the apparatus. If the shaft and barrel are threaded, turning the handle will move the threaded shaft relative to the barrel, and allow adjustment of the position of the transducer holder relative to the patient. If a biasing element is present, the transducer can be moved by pulling the shaft against the biasing force exerted by the biasing element and locking the shaft in this retracted position (engaging optional locking pin 460 with optional locking slot 470, shown in
As illustrated, adjustable connector is optionally jointed at joint 480 (
The invention also relates to a method of using the device described above. The device, or a portion thereof, can be attached to an orthopedic appliance, typically to a rigid element of the orthopedic appliance, via the clamp. The transducer can be attached to the transducer holder (if detachable) and the clamp, adjustable connector, and optionally the transducer holder adjusted to the appropriate orientation to deliver suitable ultrasound therapy. The adjustability of the device allows the transducer to be consistently and reliably positioned at the appropriate location without interference from or with the orthopedic appliance. Ultrasonic therapy can be delivered, and the device moved away from the treatment site and optionally detached (in some embodiments) from the appliance. Alternatively, the transducer can be removed from the device if desired