US 3450129 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
June 17, 1969 AVERY ET AL 3,450,129
SWABBING UNIT Filed July 6. 1966 T Carl rederi kmsgrg Qoberf'lfirewer I by fiMiJ/Qlx M (:flTTOQMEYf United States Patent US. Cl. 1282 2 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A self-contained swabbing unit for collecting cultures from body canals and for keeping the cultures in a live condition until testing. The unit includes a swab with an elongated handle and an absorbent swabbing tip, a flexible plastic tube, and a frangible glass ampoule filled with liquid and fitted within the tube. After a culture has been collected on the tip by swabbing the body canal, the swab is placed in the tube and the latter is squeezed to break the ampoule and release the liquid so that the liquid may moisten the tip and keep the collected culture in a live condition until laboratory tests have been performed on the culture.
This invention relates to a swabbing unit used by physicians and technicians for collecting a culture from various areas of a patients body, such as the ears, nose and throat, and for keeping the culture moist and alive for a period of time after it is collected. Such a unit customarily comprises an absorbent swab upon which the culture is collected by swabbing a particular body area, and a separate container in which the swab is inserted and kept moist so that the collected culture will be in a live condition when subsequently tested.
The general object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved swabbing unit of the above character in which the container carries its own sealed supply of liquid for moistening the swab after the culture has been collected, the unit being less expensive and easier to manufacture than prior units employed for related purposes and being more reliable in use.
A more detailed object is to provide a container comprising a compressible tube in which is disposed a frangible ampoule filled with liquid, the ampoule being broken after the swab has been inserted into the tube so that the liquid is released into the tube to moisten the swab.
Still another object is to utilize an absorbent plug for retaining the ampoule in the tube and for conducting the released liquid to the swab.
Other objects and advantages will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which FIGURE 1 is a perspective view illustrating a swabbing unit embodying the novel features of the present invention as disposed within a protective package.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the swabbing unit equipped with a protective cap.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the container.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the swab.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-section taken along the longitudinal axis of the unit shown in FIG. 2.
FIG. 6 is a cross-section taken along the line 66 of FIG. 5.
FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 6 and showing the container and the ampoule as the latter is being broken.
As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration, the invention is embodied in a swabbing unit comprising a so-called culture swab 10 and a container 11 which serves as a package for the swab both before and after the swab is used. In general, a culture swab is an instrument used by the medical profession for obtaining a specimen of bacteria from a particular area of a patients body, and usually from the ears, nose or throat, in order to determine if the patient is infected with certain types of organisms. The specimen, customarily called a culture, is collected on the swab by swabbing the throat or other body area with a tip 12 of absorbent material, such as cotton, wound around one end of an elongated handle 13 which may be made of wood or plastic. After the culture has been collected, the swab is placed in the container 11 and sent to a laboratory for testing. A considerable interval of time may elapse between collection and testing of the culture, and thus a small amount of liquid usually is added to the container to moisten the swabbing tip 12 and maintain the culture in a live condition during this interval.
In accordance with the present invention, the container 11 carries its own sealed supply of liquid for moistening the tip 12 of the swab 10 after the culture has been collected and thus does away with the need for pouring a separate moisturizing agent into the container to keep the culture alive. Moreover, the supply of liquid is stored in the container in a novel manner to help keep the cost of the swabbing unit relatively low and to insure that the liquid will keep the swabbing tip moist regardless of whether the container is disposed in an upright position or is lying on its side. For these purposes, the container 11 comprises an elongated tube in which is disposed a frangible ampoule 13 filled with liquid. After the culture has been collected, the swab 10 is placed in the tube 11 with the swabbing tip 12 disposed adjacent the am poule. The tube is made of an easily compressible material so that the ampoule may be crushed to release the liquid and moisten the swabbing tip simply by squeezing the walls of the tube.
In this instance, the tube 11, composed of relatively rigid but easily compressible material such as plastic, is cylindrical in cross-section and is formed with an open end 14 and an opposite closed end 15. The tube is approximately equal in length to the swab 10 with the latter being sufficiently long to reach various body areas such as the throat while being held in the physicians hand. In addition, the swab is of relatively small diameter so that the tip 12 can be inserted in confined body areas such as the nose or the ears.
As shown in FIG. 5, the frangible ampoule 13 is substantially cylindrical in shape and is disposed within the tube 11 directly in contact with the closed end 15. The ampoule, preferably made of thin glass, is considerably shorter than the tube and herein is approximately 1 /2 inches long. Sealed within the ampoule is a liquid 16 such as distilled water, saline solution, or other non-reactive liquid which will provide an environment in which the culture can live but which does not affect the culture.
After swabbing the particular body area with the tip 12 of the swab 10 and collecting the culture, the physi cian inserts the swab into the tube 11, tip first, so that the tip is disposed near the ampoule 13 (FIG. 5). Then, the physician squeezes the flexible walls of the tube inwardly between his finger F (FIG. 7) and his thumb T thereby crushing the frangible ampoule. Accordingly, the liquid 16 is released from the ampoule and into the tube to moisten the tip of the swab. With this arrangement, the tip of the swab is kept moist from the time the culture is collected until it arrives at the laboratory and without pouring any liquid into the tube.
In order to facilitate assembly of the swabbing unit, the ampoule 13 fits rather loosely within the tube 11. To retain the loose ampoule adjacent the closed end 15 of the tube and also to prevent the released liquid 16 from flowing toward the open end 14 of the tube, a short plug 17 (FIG. 5) of cotton or the like may be telescoped into the tube. The plug fits tightly within the tube and abuts the forward end of the ampoule to prevent the latter from sliding toward the open end of the tube. The tip 12 of the swab is in contact with the other end of the plug and thus, as the liquid is released, the plug is moistened and in turn conducts the moisture to the swabbing tip. In addition, the plug serves to prevent splinters of the glass ampoule from collecting on the cotton swabbing tip after the ampoule has been broken.
As shown in FIG. 2, a cylindrical cap 18 formed of plastic or coiled paper may be telescoped over the open end 14 of the tube to protect the swab 10 both before and after use. The cap is sufficiently long so as to fit over the walls of the tube and yet accommodate the swab handle 13 which projects outwardly from the open end of the tube approximately 1 inch in order that the swab may be removed easily from the tube. As a further protective measure, the swabbing unit including the cap 18 may be packaged in an elongated envelope 19 (FIG. 1) which is made of glassine paper so that the unit can be sterilized after it is packaged.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent that the new and improved swabbing unit is more convenient to use than arrangements previously employed and yet is relatively simple in construction constructed in a manner facilitating the use of relatively easy and low cost manufacturing and assembly methods. Since the container carries its own supply of liquid, it does away with the need of adding an additional moisturizing agent with a resultant saving in the amount of time required to provide the culture with a livable environment. Also, the plug 17 helps keep the tip 12 moist regardless of whether the tube 11 is disposed in an upright position or is lying on its side.
We claim as our invention:
1. In a unit for collecting cultures and the like and for maintaining the cultures in a live condition for a period of time after they are collected, the combination of, a container including an elongated tube having an open end and an opposite closed end and having thin walls formed of relatively rigid but easily compressible material, an ampoule substantially shorter than said tube and disposed within the latter adjacent said closed end, said ampoule containing a culture-sustaining liquid, said ampoule being formed of frangible material and adapted to be crushed when the walls of said tube are squeezed inwardly thereby to release the liquid into the tube, and a swab including an elongated member having an absorbent swabbing tip at one end disposed within said tube and adapted to be moistened by the released liquid, said member having an opposite end projecting from the open end of said tube and-presenting a handle whereby the swab may be removed from the tube.
2. In a unit for collecting cultures and the like and for maintaining the cultures in a live condition for a pe riod of time after they are collected, the combination of, a container including an elongated tube having an open end and an opposite closed end and having thin walls formed of relatively rigid but easily compressible material, an ampoule substantially shorter than said tube and disposed within the latter adjacent said closed end, said ampoule containing a culture-sustaining liquid, said ampoule being formed of frangible material and adapted to be crushed when the walls of said tube are squeezed inwardly thereby to release the liquid into the tube, a swab including an elongated member having an absorbent swabbing tip at one end disposed within said tube and adapted to be moistened by the released liquid, said mernher having an opposite end located adjacent the open end of said tube and defining a handle whereby the swab may be removed from the tube, and a plug of absorbent material telescoped in said tube and positioned between the tip of the swab and the ampoule to retain the ampoule adjacent the closed end of said tube and to prevent the liquid from flowing freely to the opposite end of the tube, said plug absorbing a portion of the liquid released into said tube and being disposed in end-to-end contact with said tip whereby the latter is moistened by the liquid in said plug.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,962,875 6/1934 Reber 128-269 3,163,160 12/1964 Cohen 1282 3,256,674 6/1966 Rutherford 128-269 3,282,114 11/1966 Pell 128-2 3,324,855 6/1967 Heirnlich 128269 3,368,549 2/1968 Barr et a1. 128269 CHARLES F. ROSENBAUM, Primary Examiner.
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