US 3133538 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
May 19, 1964 R. H. PRATT ETAL 3,133,538
SURGICAL SPONGES Filed Oct. 11, 1961 INVENTOR. ROBERT H. PRATT HERBERT E. NICOL.'
B men/#mama ATTO R N EYS.
3,133,538 SURGICAL SPONGES Robert H. Pratt and Herbert E. Nicol, Milwaukee, Wis., assignors to Pratt Manufacturing Corp., Miiwaukee, Wis., a corporation of Wisconsin Filed Oct. 11, 1961, Ser. No. 144,483
Z Claims. (Cl. 12S-2,96) I This invention relates` to improvements in surgical sponges, and more particularly to an improved surgical sponge or absorbent pad which may be readily detected by postoperative X-ray in the event said sponge is inadvertently left within the wound cavity of a patient during surgery.
It sometimes happens that one of the many gauze absorbent pads or Sponges employed during an operation lfor the purpose of packing the Wound and absorbing blood, is not removed before the patients incision is closed. This lis due to the fact that the surgeon is preoccupied, with the problems of the operation itself and cannot always keep an accurate count of the sponges inserted into the wound. Moreover, when said Sponges become saturated they are not easily `discernible lfrom the mass of surrounding muscle and tissue. While such an oversight is not common, 'it is nevertheless a source of concern and if there is any doubt that all of the Sponges were removed lit is of obvious advantage to be able to ascertain fthe fact without reopening the incision and exploring the wound.
With the above in mind, several types of surgical sponges have heretofore been designed which incorporate a -thin filament or tracer of a material which is impervious to radiant energy waves, thus allegedly permitting the sponge or pad to be located within a patients body by postoperative X-ray. Such prior Sponges have employed either a straight tracer thread (easily Inist-akable for bone), or they have utilized -a wavy thread, or a series of sinuous criss-crossing threads, which sometimes merge into a shadowy image not unlike certain muscle or organ structures when viewed on Ian X-ray film, and especially on an imperfectly exposed iilm. The result is that while said prior X-ray responsive surgical spong'es have been of some advantage they may be too easily confused with the internal body structure and have not, therefore, proven entirely satisfactory for their `intended purpose. For this reason, the general object `of the present invention is to provide a novel surgical sponge or absorbent pad having an X-ray responsive filamentor tracer thread therein which is so arranged Within said -sponge that it cannot be mistaken for 'at portion of the body structure, thus insuring that a postoperative-` X-ray will disclose the presence of said `sponge within the patients body.
A more specic object of the-present inventionis to provide a surgical sponge of the character described wherein the tracer thread is `arranged in a pattern having a series of distinctive loops which are entirely unlike anything in the human body, and which tracer cannot be mistaken for bone or other internal body organs even on an imperfect or shadowy X-ray picture.
A further object of the invention is to provide a surgical absorbent sponge having an X-ray responsive tracer thread therein which is integr-ated within the sponge in such a manner that it will not impair the softness and functional qualities of said sponge.
Still further objects of the present invention are to provide an improved surgical absorbent sponge as described whch can be eiciently and economically produced, which is completely safe to use, and which sponge is otherwise particularly well suited for its intended purposes.
With the above and other objects in view, therinvention consists of the improved surgical sponge, and all of its parts and combinations as set `forth in the following specification and claims, and all equivalents thereof.
In the accompanying drawing, illustrating the preferred form of the invention, and wherein the like reference numerals designate the same parts in all of the views:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of the blank of gauze material from which the sponge is formed in its initial unfolded condition;
FIG. 2 is a plan `view showing the ygauze blank with its outer sections folded over .along vertical Vfold lines, illustrating the pattern assumed by the tracer thread;
FIG. 3 is a plan view showing the blank folded again, along the center vertical fold line; A,
IFIG. 4 showsthe blank folded over on the horizontal center fold line, illustrating the tracer thread pattern; and
IFIG. 5 is an enlarged plan View of the completed surgical sponge in its finally folded form.
Referring now more particularly to FIG. 1 of the drawings, the improved surgical sponge comprising the present invention is formed of a large, square piece or. blank 10 of cot-ton gauze material. Said gauze blank is normally approximately 16 x 16" in size and is .provided with vertical fold lines (shown in dot and dash lines) 11, 12 .and 13, spaced about 4 apart, and similarly spaced horizontal `fold lines 15, 16 and 17, whereby the material can be folded into a square pad approximately 4 in size (FIG. 5). The outer edge portions of said blankV 10 are preferably folded under to prevent fraying As is illustrated in said FIG. yfl, the X-ray responsive iilaxnent `or thread 25 in the present invention is disposed adjacentgone margin 21 of the material and extends in an irregular path across the entire blank. Said thread is formed of a filament, preferably including barium, or any similar material which is impervious to radiant energy waves and which will provide an effective tracer when exposed to. X-ray, and is, of course, non# toxic and completely harmless to the human system. Said tracer thread is applied to the surface of the gauze material in the desired pattern, which will be hereinafter described, and is either bonded thereto by means of heat or is merely pressedinto place, the adhesive and co-V hesive qualities of the gauze maintaining said thread tirmly in position when the material is folded into a multilayered pad. An important aspect of the prese-nt invention, of course, is the initial positioning `of the tracer thread 25 on the gauze blank, said thread being so -arranged that its pattern in the finished and folded sponge is entirely unlike any;internal' body, organ -or muscle structure of. the human body when viewed on an X-ray lm. The actual application of said thread to the material can be accomplished either manually or'by suitable mechanical means and the particular method employed is 4not critical to the invention.
As is shown in FIG. 1, the thread 25 may be disposed in an irregular line from one margin of the blank :10 to its opposite margin, across a series of fold lines, so that there is a pronounced loop 25 formed therein in each of the squares or sections traversed by the thread 25 in the unfolded blank. Each of said loops 25' is intentionally located in a different por-tion of its particular square relative to the companion squares of the series. Thus said loops are carefully arranged so that they will not be superposed upon one another when the material is folded along the aforementioned fold lines. In add-ition, while said thread line follows a generally rectilineal path as described, it is not only irregular but is angled slightly toward'the outer edge 23 of the blank to also prevent the straight lineportions of the thread in each square from being superposed when the blank sections are folded upon each other to fonn 4a iinished sponge.
As appears in FIGS. 2 through 5, after the tracer thread 25 has been arranged on the gauze blank as described, the `opposite outer pontions of said blank are folded forwardly along the l-ines 11 and 13 (FIG. 2), thus providing a thickness of gauze over the thread. Said blank is then folded along the center yfold line 12 (FIG. 3), along the center line 1'6 (-FIG. 4), and finally .along the line 17 to provide a compact square, multi-layered pad as illustrated in FIG. 5..
Unlike prior surgical Sponges of the general type herein concerned, the tracer thread 25 in the present invention is 4not exposed on the outer surface of the sponge, where it would come into direct contact with the patients internal organs and could conceivably cause abrasion and irritation, but is covered by at least one layer of cotton gauze material; It has been found that while said tracer thread is completely covered by gauze to protect the patient as described, the presence of a layer of gauze material thereover does not affect nor minimize the X-ray responsive qualities of said thread, .and the sponge thread is as readily visually discernible by X-ray as when 4the thread is secured on the outer surface of the material.
-As will be seen ifrom said FIGS. 2 through 5, due to the unique initial .arrangement of the tracer thread 25 on the unfolded gauze piece or blank, the visual pattern produced when the blank is folded is unlike anything in the Ihuman body structure, and cannot be confused therewith in an X-ray picture, as is possible in respect to straight tracer threads or filaments employed in most prior sponges of the same general type. Moreover, due to the distinctive thread loops 25 characterizing the present invention, which are spaced from each other both vertically and horizontally and do not coincide in the folded pad, the possibility of the threads merging into `a shadowy image similar to certain muscle structures as sometimes occurs with Sponges having uniform sinuous thread lines, is completely eliminated. This is true even in an imperfectly exposed X-ray picture. The result is that the novel design and arrangement of the tracer thread in the present surgical sponge permits a doctor to readily discern the presence of the sponge in a patients body by postoperative X-ray, and eliminates the necessity for a re-opening of the incision and a tedious exploration of the wound.
It is to be understood, of course, that the invention is -not to be limited to a surgical sponge identical to that illustrated `and hereinabove described in every detail, inasmuch as it would obviously be possible, within the purport of the present invention, to rearrange or transpose the distinctive tracer loops 2S', or to employ a different arrangement of `fold lines. It is to be understood,
too, that while the invention has been described as being particularly designed for detection by X-ray, it -is conceivable that other radiant energy waves might be employed for the same purpose in the future, and the use of the invention and the particular composition of the tracer lament is not to be restricted in this respect.
With the above in mind, it is intended that the present invention include the embodiment illustrated and hereinabove described, and any and all modifications or changes therein as may come within the spirit of the invention, and within the scope of the following claims.
What we claim is:
1. A method of manufacturing a surgical sponge with a tracer thread therein comprising the steps of progressively extending a thread of X-ray responsive material across the surface of a blank of gauze or the like, during said extending, circling the thread back in a reverse direction and then causing it to cross itself to form a closed loop, continuing across the width of the blank while forming a few other similar closed loops and while spacing said loops relatively Widely longitudinally of the thread in a predetermined manner, and folding the blank on multiple fold lines which are so spaced relative to the spacing of the loops as to form a pad wherein there are a plurality of non-superimposed closed loops.
2. A surgical sponge, comprising: a rectangular blank of gauze material having a plurality of spaced, intersecting fold lines ydefining rows of sections, said blank being folded along said yfold lines into a compact, multilayered pad the size of one of said sections; and a tracer thread of X-ray responsive material secured to the surface of said blank and extending across the entire width thereof and having a few relatively widely-spaced loop portions so spaced and positioned in said sections that a plurality of the loops are in non-superimposed relation relative to one another when said blank is folded into a multi-layered pad, each loop being relatively large and of complete ring form where the thread circles for a distance in `a reverse direction before crossing itself, said loops being relatively few in number so that there are substantial portions of the width of the pad which are free o-f loops.
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