US 3473886 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Filed April 12, 1967 STERILIZING 23 CONTACTLENS 23 INVENTOR. H.R. LEEDS Patented @ct. 21, 1969 3,473,886 MEDICAL STERHJZATIUN APPARATUS Harry R. Leeds, 250 Ashley Drive, Rochester, N.Y. 14620 Filed Apr. 12, 1967, Ser. No. 630,421 Int. Cl. A611 3/00 US. Cl. 21-91 7 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Medical sterilization apparatus comprising a scalable container for receiving the element, such as contact lens, to be sterilized. The container is provided with a forceresponsive valve which can be opened to allow a sterilizing gas to pass into the container. The gas is provided in a pressurized cannister having a force-responsive valve which can be opened to allow the gas to lead the cannister. The container and cannister valves are so constructed that when engaged, the cannister valve first causes opening of the container valve, which then causes opening of the cannister valve allowing the gas to flow directly from the cannister into the container.
This invention relates to medical sterilization apparatus.
There is a need in the art for portable apparatus of small size and weight by which medical elements, instruments, apparatus and the like can be readily sterilized. A case in point is contact lens, which should be removed each night and sterilized prior to reuse the following day. Present techniques of boiling in Water or immersion in sterilizing fluid are cumbersome and unreliable. Ethylene oxide is known as a sterilizing gas which when maintained in contact with the element to be sterilized for a minimum length of time will produce the degree of sterilization required, but there are unavailable in the art any convenient inexpensive apparatus for obtaining the required time of contact.
The chief object of the invention is sterilization apparatus which can be manufactured at low cost and in small size and which will enable the sterilizing gas to be readily brought into total contact with the element to be sterilized and maintained in contact for the time required to obtain the degree of sterilization required.
This and other objects of the invention are achieved with a novel sterilization apparatus comprising a pressurized cannister of the sterilizing gas and a scalable container for receiving the element to be sterilized, The container and cannister are provided with valves constructed to engage one another in such manner that the container valve is opened prior to opening of the cannister valve so that the sterilizing gas can flow directly from the pressurized cannister into the container. A further feature of the invention is a wall construction of the container which indicates when a sufiicient quantity of the sterilizing gas has been introduced.
The invention will now be described with greater detail in connection with the accompanying drawing, wherein: FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of one form of the apparatus in accordance with the invention; FIG. 2 is a top view of the container of FIG. 1.
FIG. 1 shows the container and pressurized cannister of one form of sterilization apparatus in accordance with the invention. The cannister 1 and container 20 are both shown in cross-section in the pre-engagement position. Both devices are circular-symmetric and are drawn approximately to scale. The cannister 1 comprises a metal housing 2 containing ethylene oxide sterilizing gas 3 under pressure. It includes a force-responsive valve 4 including a nozzle 5 having a tubular channel 6 for flow of the gas 3. The end of the nozzle 5 is slotted 7 to allow the gas to flow out. Movable within the channel 6 is a cylindrical piston or pin 8 which is enlarged at its top end to form an annular tapered sealing rim 9 and a recess 10 for receiving one end of a heavy compression spring 11. The sealing rim 9 bears against an annular gasket 12 of soft metal, such as lead or aluminum, which is non-permeable to the gas. The gasket 12 is secured in place by a holder 13 which is force fitted into the nozzle 5 which seals oif the end of the can 2. The holder 13 also serves to support the other end of the spring 11. A hole 14 in the holder 13 allows the gas to flow out. Grooves 15 in the inside walls of the nozzle 5 allow the gas to flow out when the pin is pushed inward. Normally, the spring 11 force urges the sealing rim 9 against the gasket 12 confining the gas within the cannister 1. Should the pin be pushed inward, the gas will flow out under pressure through the channel 6.
The container 20 comprises a housing 21, for example of glass or metal, with a lid 22. The rim of the housing is threaded and the rim of the lid 22 is likewise threaded so the parts may be separated, the element, such as contact lens 23, placed within the container 20, and the lid screwed down tight sealing the interior by means of a non-permeable gasket 24 of a soft metal. Alternatively, the lenses may also be held in a plastic container which is gas permeable to facilitate handling, and the plastic container placed within the container 20. Secured as by welding to the lid 22 is a valve assembly 25. It comprises, similarly to the valve 4 of the cannister 1, a housing member 26 to which is secured as by threads or press-fitted for example a spring holder 27 whose upper rim sealingly engages a non-permeable soft metal gasket 28. Within the valve is similarly arranged a slideable piston or pin 29 having an annular sealing rim 30 also engaging the gasket 28. A light compressive spring 31 is mounted between the pin 29 and the holder 27 and urges the pin against the gasket 28 to seal off the container interior. Mounted inside the gasket is a second resilient gasket 32, which may be of rubber, for engaging the nozzle 5 on the cannister.
The operation of the assembly is evident from the drawing. The cannister 1 is moved downward. The nozzle end 5, which has an outside diameter which will engage the rubber gasket 32 to seal oif the outside and an inside diameter which will receive the container pin 29, which has the same diameter as the cannister pin 8, is further dimensioned so that the pins 8 and 29 engage after the nozzle 5 engages the rubber gasket 32 and before the slotted end 7 engages the pin shoulder 33. Since the spring 31 is lighter than the spring 11, further downward movement of the cannister 1 pushes the pin 29 down opening the container valve 25. The pin body 34 will move downward until stopped by the holder 27. Further downward movement of the cannister 1 will then urge its pin 8 upward opening its valve and allowing the pressurized gas to flow from the cannister 1 through both valves directly into the container 20. The downward movement of the cannister 1 is stopped when the nozzle end 7 engages the pin shoulder 33. The gas from cannister 1 will enter and fill container 20 until the pressures in the two are equalized or the cannister pressure is continued until the desired gas pressure is established within the container 20, which can be determined by experience.
A further feature of the invention is to make the lid 22 flexible so that it will bulge when the required pressure is attained giving a visual indication. This is conveniently accomplished by forming corrugations in the sheet metal lid 22 to give it the required flexibility to allow it to bulge under pressure, which corrugations are illustrated at 35 in FIG. 2. When the lid bulges, the cannister 1 is withdrawn closing first its valve 4 and then the container valve 25 resealing both devices automatically.
The construction shown will maintain the contact lens 23 in the sterilizing gas atmosphere for sufiicient time to allow adequate sterilization. By manually depressing pin 29 the gas is allowed to escape from container 20 and the lid 22 can be easily removed. If gasket 28 is fabricated from a material which is permeable to the sterilizing gas, leakage through the seal will occur albeit at a slow rate, and after a period of several hours the gas pressure will reduce allowing the lid 22 to be removed for withdrawing the now-sterilized contact lens. It is understood that other sterilizing gasses, vapors, or suspensions under pressure can obviously be substituted for the ethylene oxide. If desired, a cover can be provided over the valve assembly 25 to maintain same in a clean condition.
While I have described my invention in connection with specific embodiments and applications, other modifications thereof will be readily apparent to those skilled in this art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. Medical sterilization apparatus comprising, in combination: a scalable container including a housing and a removable lid, said container comprising a valve assembly releasibly sealing the container interior, said container valve including a movable piston having an enlarged portion with an annular sealing rim and an annular sealing gasket, the annular sealing rim of said movable piston engaging the annular sealing gasket when the piston occupies a first sealing position sealing the container interior, said piston being movable to a second open position for receiving a sterilizing medium into the container interior, container resilient means located in the container valve assembly for urging the container piston into its first sealing position; and a pressurized cannister containing a sterilizing medium under pressure, said cannister comprising a valve assembly adapted to engage the container valve and releasibly sealing the cannister interior, said cannister valve including a movable piston having an annular sealing rim and an annular sealing gasket, the annular sealing rim of said cannister piston engaging the cannister annular sealing gasket when the cannister piston occupies a first sealing position sealing off the cannister interior, said piston being movable to a second open position for releasing the sterilizing medium, cannister resilient means urging the cannister piston into its first sealing position, said cannister resilient means being stiffer than the container resilient means; and means operative when the cannister and container valves are engaged for first moving the container piston from the first to the second position and for later moving the cannister piston from the first to the second position, said last-named means including a nozzle portion on the cannister valve assembly and surrounding its piston, means for arresting the inward movement of the container piston, and gasket means for sealing the nozzle to the container valve assembly.
2. Medical sterilization apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein the container valve comprises an opening in its wall surrounding its piston, for receiving the cannister nozzle, the gasket for sealing the nozzle to the container valve is mounted on the valve wall surrounding the opening and extends toward the piston, said last-named gasket has an internal diameter slightly smaller than the external diameter of the nozzle, and the nozzle has an internal diameter for receiving the container piston.
3. Medical sterilization apparatus as set forth in claim 2 wherein the end of the nozzle is grooved, and the container and cannister pistons have the same external diameter.
4. Medical sterilization apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein the container valve assembly is mounted in the center of the removable lid, and the lid regions surrounding the valve assembly are corrugated constituting a flexible wall enabling it to bulge when the internal container pressure is increased.
5. Medical sterilization apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein both annular sealing gaskets are of soft metal.
6. Medical sterilization apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein the sterilizing medium is ethylene oxide gas. and the pistons and nozzle are dimensioned such that the pistons engage and activate one another before the nozzle end engages the enlarged portion of the container piston.
7. Medical sterilization apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein the container valve assembly comprises a projecting housing having an opening in a wall portion thereof and within the assembly behind the wall portion the annular sealing gasket surrounding but spaced from the opening, the piston of the container valve comprises an elongated pin accessible through the said opening and having an enlarged portion forming the sealing rim, a second resilient gasket is located behind the said wall portion adjacent the opening, the cannister valve assembly comprises a nozzle having a diameter smaller than the opening in the said wall portion but larger than the internal diameter of the second resilient gasket whereby it will sealingly engage the second gasket when the nozzle is pushed through the said opening causing the pistons to engage one another.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,194,004 3/ 1940 Bukolt.
2,894,844 7/1959 Shakman 220-66 XR 2,965,936 12/1960 Kaye 21-91 3,037,656 6/1962 Humphrey 220-66 XR 3,057,537 8/1962 Pollick 22066 XR 3,114,599 12/1963 Fanning 21-98 2,565,872 8/1951 Melsheimer 14l35l 3,216,466 11/1965 Simko 222--3 XR 3,402,747 9/1968 Tissot-Dupont 141-352 FOREIGN PATENTS 1,001,332 1965 Great Britain.
MORRIS O. WOLK, Primary Examiner D. G. MILLMAN, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.