US 3604071 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Inventor Harry G. Reimels Braintree, Mass.
July 25, 1969 Sept. 14, 1971 Codlnan 8: Shurtlell, Inc.
Appl. No. Filed Patented Assignee ONE-PIECE PLASTIC TOWEL CLAMP 4 Clnlrns, 10 Drawing Figs.
U.S. C1. 24/248 L, 128/346 Int. Cl. ..A44b 21/00, A61b 17/00 Field of Search 128/346;
24/248 BB, 248 L, 248 SL, 249 SL, 255 TZ, 250, 258,137, 20 R, 255 SL  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 435,887 9/1890 Ellithorp 24/250 UX 1,259,109 3/1918 Kugler et al. 24/250 UX 2,090,234 8/ 1937 Robinowitz 24/248 L X 3,247,852 4/1966 Schneider 128/346 3,266,109 8/1966 Thomas 24/20 R 3,320,958 5/ 1967 Nolan 128/346 FOREIGN PATENTS 187,262 1] 1964 Sweden 128/346 Primary ExaminerDonald A, Griffin Attorneys-James R. Hulen and Robert L. Minier ABSTRACT: A one-piece molded plastic clamp having coacting jaws laterally offset from the ends of a pair of substantially straight arms that are integral with an arcuately shaped hinge portion. A mechanism comprising a rack and a locking hook is located between the arms for releasably maintaining the jaws in a clamping relationship.
ONE-PIECE PLASTIC TOWEL CLAMP BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a clamp and, more particularly, to a one-piece plastic clamp useful for clamping surgical towels, drapes, and other surgical accessories.
During a surgical operation, the area of the incision is usually surrounded by a plurality of absorbent towels that are joined together in a square or rectangular pattern. These towels are positioned adjacent to the incision to absorb blood and other body fluids and, in normal practice, the towels are covered with a drape having an opening thatexposes only the immediate area of the incision. It is desirable that the fasteners used to join the towels be as flat as possible so that they do not distort the overlying drape and so that they do not protrude into the surgeon's operating field.
Presently, the two principal types of clamps in general use for joining the individual towels to fonn the desired pattern are a nonpenetrating clamping forceps and a pointed piercing type of forceps for pinning the towels directly to the skin of the patient. Both of the above type of clamps are constructed of metal and are of the box lock, ring handled-type instrument. These instruments are relatively heavy and do not lie as flat when attached as may be desirable for certain surgical procedures. However, the primary problem associated with the use of the present towel clamps in the initial high cost of manufacturing the clamps and the subsequent high cost of cleaning and sterilizing the clamps after a surgical procedure.
Also, of considerable importance is the large number of clamps lost subsequent to a surgical procedure as a result of the clamps being mixed with the used drapes and towels which are either to be discarded or laundered. This is particularly true with respect to the relatively new disposable drapes which are being used in increasing numbers in the operating rooms.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides a towel clamp construction that can be manufactured in one piece in a one-step molding operation. The simple construction is easily cleaned and sterilized and no assembly of the device is required. As an additional advantage, the cost of manufacturing the uniquely constructed plastic clamp is so relatively low that the clamp may be considered to be a disposable clamp, thus, completely eliminating the necessity for subsequent cleaning and sterilization.
The unique device is constructed with a pair of substantially straight arms having jaws secured to the ends thereof in laterally offset relationship. The jaws may be of the concaveconvex type which coact to securely clamp any material placed therebetween or they may be of a pointed type which are designed to penetrate into the material. The arms are integrally connected by an arcuately shaped portion that is pl'etensioned to hold the jaws apart a predetermined distance. Secured between the arms is a unique locking mechanism that is adjustable to provide for various degrees of clamping pressure for the jaws. The locking mechanism is provided with guide means which accomplishes the alignment of the clampingjaws and prevents twisting of the jaws under stress.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The invention will be particularly described with reference to the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention when considered together with the attached drawing, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a towel clamp constructed in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the towel clamp shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of the towel clamp shown in FIG. 1 illustrating the clamp in a clamping position relative to a piece of material;
FIG. 4 is a side view of the towel clamp shown in FIG. I;
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary plan view of the towel clamp shown in FIG. 1 with parts broken away for clarity;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 7--7 of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary plan view of another embodiment of the invention with parts broken away for clarity;
FIG. 9'is a cross-sectional view taken along line 9--9of FIG. 8; and
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary perspective view illustrating another embodiment of the jaw construction of the towel clamp shown in FIG. 1.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIGS. 1-4 of the drawing, the preferred embodiment of the clamp of the present invention is illustrated generally at 10. Clamp 10 has a unitary plastic construction having a pair of substantially straight arms 11 and I2 and an arcuately shaped hinge portion 13 connecting said arms. The entire assembly is constructed of moldable plastic and arcuate portion 13 is so shaped that it maintains arms 11 and 12 in a predetermined spaced relationship. Any conventional molding procedure may be utilized to form the clamp, such as, injection molding, and any conventional moldable plastic material that will yield the desired rigidity and flexibility may be used.
At the extremities of arms 11 and 12 are located integral jaws l4 and 15. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 4, jaws l4 and 15 are shown in an offset position relative to the longitudinal axis of the arms 11 ans 12, respectively.
The jaws l4 and 15 are illustrated as being offset both inwardly, i.e., in a direction toward one another as viewed in FIG. 2, and laterally, in a direction away from the plane of the clamp of viewed in FIG. 4. It will be appreciated that the inward offset construction provides a positive clamping means so that the jaws may coact when brought together over a piece of material, whereas, the lateral offset constructionprovides a jaw configuration that permits the clamp to lie flat against the clamped material.
Jaws I4 and 15 are of a concave-convex construction and are adapted to mesh when brought into contact with one another or with a piece of material therebetween. This construction is best illustrated in FIG. 5, wherein jaws I4 and I5 are shown in meshing relationship with a sheet of fabric F located therebetween.
Clamp 10 is provided with a thumb pad 17 and a finger pad 18 which may be conveniently utilized by a doctor or operating room attendant to forcibly overcome the spring action of arcuate portion 13 to bring jaws l4 and 15 into a clamping relationship.
An important feature of the present invention is the unique guiding and locking mechanism shown generally at 20 in FIGS. l3. In order to accommodate various sizes of material which are to be clamped and to provide a means for varying the pressure exerted by jaws l4 and 15, a locking mechanism has been designed which provides a simple, yet effective, means for adjusting the spacing between the jaws. A rack 21 is formed integral with arm 11 and has secured thereto a plurality of teeth 22 which are preferably facing the arcuate portion 13. Rack 21 may be thought of as being constructed of two individual rack members which are connected by a reinforcing rib or as a single rack member having a channel extending along the approximate longitudinal centerline thereof. In either event, rack 21 is fairly rigid in construction and does not yield readily under pressure. Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, the construction of rack 21 is shown is detail. A pair of toothed members 23 and 24 are molded integral with arm 11 and extend inwardly from the arm in a substantially parallel relationship. A reinforcing rib 25 extends between the individual racks 23 and 24 and provides a unitary rigid construction. A channel 26 (see FIG. 7) which opens toward the arcuate portion 13 separates the members 23 and 24 and provides a receiving channel for the guiding member to be hereinafter described.
Referring again to FIG. 1, a locking member 27 in the form of a relatively thin plastic strip is secured integral with arm 12 and has a hook 28 secured to the end thereof. Hook 28 is in alignment with rack 21 and is adapted to mesh with the teeth 22 of rack 21 when arms 11 and 12 are forced inwardly toward one another to thereby lock the arms in any one of a plurality of positions. A releasing lever 29 is secured to locking member 27 on the side opposite to that on which book 27 is secured, and lever 29 extends away from member 27 in the direction of the arcuate portion 13. A guiding lug 30 is also secured to the end of locking member 27 on the approximate longitudinal centerline thereof and the lug is adapted to be received by channel 26 to thereby align rack 21 with locking member 27 and to prevent any twisting of the arms 11 and 12 during the attachment of the clamp 10. This is best illustrated in FIG. 3 wherein jaws l4 and 15 are shown in a clamping position and hook 28 is in meshing engagement with a tooth 22 on rack 21. The locking mechanism is securely fastened and guiding lug is located within channel 26.
lnorder to apply the unique clamp, the clamp is firmly grasped by a nurse or doctor with the thumb and forefinger resting on pads 17 and 18, respectively. Jaws l4 and 15 are placed over the material to be clamped and pressure is applied to pads 17 and 18 to thereby overcome the string action of arcuate portion 13 and to force jaws 14 and 15 together. As the jaws come together, guiding lug 30 enters channel 26 to prevent any twisting or distortion of the clamp as additional pressure is applied and to align rack 21 and locking member 27 so that proper meshing of hook 28 and teeth 22 will be accomplished. If the clamp has been improperly located or if it is desired to remove the clamp, it is only necessary to lightly press level 29 toward arm 12 to thereby remove hook 28 from its meshing position with respect to tooth 22 and to thereby permit the spring action of arcuate portion 13 to again return jaws 14 and 15 to the predetermined spaced relationship.
Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, a further embodiment of a rack construction is illustrated wherein a pair of substantially parallel individual racks 32 and 33 extend outwardly from arm 11 and have a space 34 located therebetween for receiving a guiding lug, such as, lug 30 illustrated in FIG. 1. This simplified construction may be utilized when a less rigid rack construction is found to be desirable.
Referring to FlG. 10, a modified jaw construction provides for a sharply pointed pair of jaw members 35 and 36 which extend inwardly from a pair of laterally offset jaw supporting members 37 and 38, respectively. .law supporting members 37 and 38 are integrally formed with the ends of the clamp arms and the offset construction, as previously described, provides an effective means for preventing the body of the clamp from protruding outwardly from the clamped surface. Although two specific jaw constructions have been illustrated herein,. it should be appreciated that many different constructions may be utilized to provide specific clamping means which may be desirable for a specific surgical procedure.
From the foregoing, it will be apparent that the present invention provides a very unique clamp construction that may conveniently and inexpensively be manufactured in a one-step molding operation. ,The clamp can be made in one piece and no assembly of parts is required. Furthermore, the low cost of the towel clamp makes it possible to discard the clamp after an initial use, thus, eliminating the necessity of further handling and sterilization.
What is claimed is:
1. A clamp comprising: (1) a one-piece molded plastic element having two substantially straight arms and an arcuately shaped flexible portion connecting said arms, each of said arms having a jaw on the end thereof and said arcuate portion being effective to yieldingly maintain said jaws at a predetermined spaced relationship; (2) a rack having two spaced parallel toothed members extending inwardly from one of said arms with the teeth thereon facing said arcuate portion; and
(3) a locking member extending inwardly from the other of said arms and having a hook at the end thereof in alignment with and facing said rack teeth and having a guiding lug on the end thereof positioned to pass between said toothed members to maintain alignment between said rack and said locking member and to prevent twisting of said jaws under stress, said hook being adapted to mesh with one of said rack teeth when said jaws are forced inwardly against the pressure of said arcuate portion to thereby maintain said jaws in a clamping relationship.
2. The clamp of claim 1 further comprising a reinforcing rib connecting said toothed members.
3. The clamp of claim 1 further comprising release means associated with at least one of said rack and said locking member for releasing said hook from said rack tooth to enable said arcuate portion to return said jaws to said predetennined spaced relationship.
4. The clamp of claim 3 wherein said release means comprises a lever extending outwardly from said locking member in the direction of said arcuate portion.