US 3640295 A
An ultrasonic cleaner and surgical instrument carrying case, which is usable separately and apart from or in combination with the ultrasonic cleaner, the ultrasonic cleaner including within at least one sink an oscillatable cradle which may carry the instrument case during the ultrasonic cleaning process. Additionally provided as a part of the ultrasonic cleaner are a pump and filter to circulate a cleaning fluid within the sink of the ultrasonic cleaner and to remove particles and other matter from the fluid. The instrument case includes, within a chamber walled with expanded metal or other perforated material, means for retaining the contained instruments at desired locations, which may include a plurality of posts adapted to receive various instruments and a plurality of retaining members attachable to the posts to lock the instruments in position.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Peterson Feb. 8, 1972  ULTRASONIC CLEANER AND SURGICAL INSTRUMENT CASE [211 App]. No.: 30,458
 U.S.Cl ..l34/159, 134/1, 134/184  Int. Cl ..B08b 7/02  Field of Search ..l34/1, 184, 107, 25, 34,159
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,702,260 2/1955 Massa.... .....l34/l Kupferschmid ..l34/25 UX 2,889,837 Braun et al. 1 34/140 Primary Examiner-Morn's O. Wolk Assistant Examiner-Joseph T. Zatarga Attorney-Richard A. Bachand  ABSTRACT An ultrasonic cleaner and surgical instrument carrying case, which is usable separately and apart from or in combination with the ultrasonic cleaner, the ultrasonic cleaner including within at least one sink an oscillatable cradle which may carry the instrument case during the ultrasonic cleaning process. Additionally provided as a part of the ultrasonic cleaner are a pump and filter to circulate a cleaning fluid within the sink of the ultrasonic cleaner and to remove particles and other matter from the fluid. The instrument case includes, within a chamber walled with expanded metal or other perforated material, means for retaining the contained instruments at desired locations, which may include a plurality of posts adapted to receive various instruments and a plurality of retaining members attachable to the posts to lock the instruments in position.
1 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures almuz s WNWWU FW 8 I97? WEE? E. W 2
WM Q/ IVVI-VUR. WENDELL C. PETERSON ATTORNY PATENTEU FEB 8 I972 SHEETEN INVENTOR. WENDELL C. PETERSON A T T O l NiY FIG 3 ULTRASONIC CLEANER AND SURGICAL INSTRUMENT CASE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to improvements in equipment which may be used in sterile environments, and more particularly to improvements in surgical instrument cases and in ultrasonic cleaners for cleaning such cases and the contained instruments.
2. Description of the Prior Art Rigorous procedures are employed among hospitals, medical centers, and doctors offices with respect to handling, cleaning, sterilizing, and maintaining instruments and equipment for medical, surgical, and operating use. The most important overall consideration, of course, is preserving cleanliness and sterility of the instruments and operating room equipment prior to use. Because of the pernicious influences and environments to which the instruments may become exposed in presently used surgical techniques, even though the strictest precautions may be taken, operating rooms are generally physically arranged and disposed in a manner to attempt to preserve to as high a degree as possible the sterility of the instruments and surrounding objects. Thus, the chance of crosscontamination or other deadly and dangerous condition occurring is made as small as possible. Frequently, to this end, an operating room is prepared for surgery by first locating a back table generally away from the site at which the primary operating activity is to be conducted. The particular instruments required in the surgery, just prior to the operation, are removed from a protective prophylactic wrapper in which they are stored and are arranged in readily accessible fashion on the back table. A second smaller table, frequently called a Mayo" table, is then positioned near the site of the operation and, during the course of the operation, various of the instruments are brought forward from the back" table and positioned on the Mayo table, thereby allowing the operating doctor or his assistant immediate access to particular instruments as they are needed. During the operation while the instruments are maintained on the back table ready for use they may remain exposed for a considerable period of time to air-conditioning and other convection currents of air, which may allow dust and bacterial contamination to settle on them, which, of course, is undesirable.
During the course of an operation, the instruments may become soiled by blood and other operating debris, which may cake or harden thereon and may be difficult to remove. Consequently, to ease subsequent cleaning processes the in struments may be immediately placed in a soaking solution after use so as not to allow the blood and other operating debris to so cake or harden thereon.
After an operation, the used instruments may be cleaned by hand or machine washing, or by other frequently used cleaning procedures. Because of the physical problems involved in storing, carrying, and handling the instruments, the presently used cleaning methods have several major disadvantages and limitations. Hand washing, for example the most frequently used cleaning method, involves brushing and scrubbing each instrument in a soap solution to remove accumulated operating materials and debris. It may be seen that such hand washing involves an inherently high risk of damage to the instruments, especiallythose with particularly sharp and delicate edges, such as the cutting instruments, scalpels, knives, chisels, scissors, and the like. This risk rapidly becomes acute considering the high cost of precision operating instruments and the shortened lifetime due to the easily incurred washing damage. Additionally, in hand washing instruments which open and close, such as scissors, clamps, and the like, the box" portions of such instruments at the hinged intersection of its parts frequently are inaccessible without completely dismantling the instruments. Thus, it can be seen that individually hand washing each instrument is time-consuming, inefficient. and may not even result in the desired degree of cleanliness.
Ultrasonic cleaning of surgical instruments has been proposed, and is currently being used in increasingly large numbers of hospitals to obviate hand washing procedures. In general, presently used ultrasonic cleaners employ a fluid or bath into which the instrument to be cleaned may be placed and through which ultrasonic waves, sound waves having a generally high frequency, are passed. The surgical instruments may be either individually placed into and removed from the ultrasonic cleaner or placed in a basket which may be immersed in the cleaning fluid. In either case, extra handling of the individual instruments is required in inserting and removing the instruments within the cleaner, which, again, increases the chance of contamination and damage to the instruments. Additionally, in present ultrasonic cleaners the instruments are generally maintained in a stationary or fixed location within the cleaning fluid; however, because the sources of the ultrasonic waves, the ultrasonic transducers, are also stationary, null" areas, or areas at which the ultrasonic waves from the various transducers and from reflections within the ultrasonic bath interfere and cancel, occur. These null" areas throughout the cleaning solution may ultimately result in portions or areas of the instrument which may not be effectively cleaned.
' BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION In light of the above, it is an object of the invention to present an ultrasonic cleaner in which the instruments to be cleaned are moved with respect to the ultrasonic transducers to minimize the effects of null points of the ultrasonic waves in the cleaning fluid.
It is a further object of the invention to present a case for carrying surgical instruments which may be used in conjunction with the ultrasonic cleaner of the invention.
It is a still further object of the invention to present a case for carrying surgical instruments which reduces the required operating room handling of surgical instruments.
It is yet a further object of the invention to present a case for carrying surgical instruments which allows immediate and efficient access to the instruments.
It is still a yet further object of the invention to present a case for surgical instruments which may be immersed in an ultrasonic cleaner and which allows ultrasonic waves to pass through it to contact and clean the contained instruments.
It is another object of the invention to present a method for cleaning surgical instruments which employs ultrasonic waves, which efficiently cleans the instruments, and which reduces the required handling of the instruments in the cleaning process.
These and other objects, features, and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description when read in light of the attached drawing and appended claims.
In accordance with the present invention, an ultrasonic cleaner and a case adapted to carry and store medical or surgical instruments for use in conjunction with the ultrasonic cleaner are presented. The ultrasonic cleaner includes a cradle for receiving at least one instrument case mounted within a sink in which an ultrasonic cleaning fluid may be contained. The cradle is oscillatable among various angles with respect to ultrasonic transducers mounted within the sink and is movable by appropriate means for producing the desired oscillating action. Additionally, means for filtering and circulating the cleaning fluid may be provided.
The instrument case usable with the ultrasonic cleaner may additionally be used to carry and store medical instruments. Such case may include top and bottom portions hingedly attachable together to define a closed position forming an enclosure between the portions. The walls of the box portions have a plurality of holes therein to allow ultrasonic waves traversing the ultrasonic cleaning fluid to penetrate the enclosure and contact the contained instruments. Contained within the case is a means for carrying the instruments, which includes a plurality of instrument receiving members and a plurality of locking members, each locking member attachable to at least one of the receiving members.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING The invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawing wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the ultrasonic cleaner, in accordance with the invention, which has been partially cut away to illustrate the arrangement and interrelation of the parts thereof;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of a rotating mechanism for use in conjunction with the ultrasonic cleaner of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the instrument case in accordance with the invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIG. 1, an ultrasonic cleaner is illustrated. The ultrasonic cleaner 10 may be constructed of an overall cabinet 11 having casters, rollers, or other means for allowing ease of moving mounted on the bottom thereof, rollers 12 being illustrated. The cabinet 10 may have an overall sink or cavity portion 13 defined at its upper portion, which may, in turn, be divided into two sinks, l4 and 15. Sink 14 may contain a plurality of ultrasonic transducers 16 arranged along its bottom, and, perhaps, sides, as shown. The particular arrangement of the ultrasonic transducers 16, although not critical, should be essentially staggered with respect to one another to minimize as much as possible the amount or degree of cancellation of interfering ultrasonic waves emitted from the various transducers l6.
Along the bottom of the sink 14 is an oscillating cradle 17 having a plurality of support members 18 extending upwardly from a carrying frame 19 to receive and carry cases containing the instruments to be cleaned, such as the instrument case illustrated in FIG. 3 and described below in detail. The oscillating cradle 17 may be made of any material such as fiber glass, stainless steel, and the like, but should, obviously, be of a material which is not easily corroded by exposure to ultrasonic waves. The oscillating cradle 17 may be carried upon a rotatable mount 20 affixed to sink 14, the mount 20 being actuated by the oscillating assembly 21.
As illustrated in FIG. 2, the oscillating assembly 21 may simply comprise a rotating shaft 22 contained in a bearing mount 23, and driven by a motor 24 (shown in FIG. 1) or other such rotating means. Rotatably attached to the rotating shaft 22 is a shaft 25 which drives a linearly moving piston 26 within a chamber 27. The linearly moving piston 26, in turn, drives a third shaft 28, afiixed to a rotatable portion 29 of the mount 20. Thus, as the shaft 22 is rotated by motor 24, the rotational motion thereof is changed through piston 26 to oscillatory motion which is transmitted by shaft 28 to the oscillating cradle 17 on the rotatable portion 29 of mount 20.
The second sink 15 is separated from sink 14 by a dividing wall 30. Wall 30 may have a removable filter 31 mounted thereon through which cleaning fluid (not shown) within sinks 14 and 15 may be forced, to strain and remove debris which has been displaced from the cleaned instruments. Such filter screen may be of fiber glass or other suitable material having a mesh size small enough to catch the debris ordinarily encountered. The cleaning fluid may be circulated between sinks l4 and 15 by a pump 32, such circulating pumps being well known in the art, not being described in detail herein.
The instrument case of the invention, generally indicated by the reference numeral 100, for use in conjunction with the ultrasonic cleaner 10, is illustrated in FIG. 3 of the drawing. The case 100 includes an upper portion 101 hinged by hinge 102 to lower portion 103. The case may be of any convenient shape, the rectangular shape illustrated being preferred. The walls of the case, affixed such as by spot welding or the like, onto a suitable frame, such as frames 104 and 105, may be of any convenient material, such as stainless steel, aluminum,
fiber glass, and the like; however, since the case may be used in connection with ultrasonic waves within a fluid medium, a material which does not readily decompose in such ultrasonic waves, such as a stainless steel or the like is preferred.
The walls of the case have a plurality of holes or perforations therethrough to allow ultrasonic waves to penetrate to the interior of the case 100. Such holes may be prefabricated by use of expanded metal, or, alternatively, may be easily fabricated by forming the holes in the wall material. The term expanded metal" or material as used herein is intended to refer to a sheet of metal or material, respectively, which has been perforated or slotted and subsequently stretched or distorted to open and elongate the perforations or slots to present a pattern of holes through the sheet. Expanded metal, alternatively, may be fabricated from strips of metal woven or formed into the desired pattern and joined at particular intersecting areas. The desired end characteristic in both types of expanded material is to achieve an actual presented material surface area which is less than the overall possible surface area computed from the edge dimensions. Because of the desirability of allowing as large a quantity as possible of ultrasonic waves into the interior of the case in order to efficiently clean the instruments which ultimately are to be contained therein, a large number of holes, at least 10 percent and preferably percent, of the exposed surface area, is preferred. Thus, the material surface area of the wall material may be on the order of from 90 to 10 percent.
The instrument case may be closed or latched by a convenient latching means, such as the illustrated catches 106 and 107 with their respective catch posts 108 and 109. Additionally, the case may have a handle 110 or other convenient means for carrying.
Contained within the case 100 is a means for carrying the instruments, such as the illustrated grid assembly, generally indicated by the reference numeral 120. The grid assembly may include a plurality of brace members 121 and 122 formed generally into a grid. The grid assembly 120 may be fastened to a bottom wall of the carrying case 100 by bolts, welds, or other means (not shown), or may be carried unattached within the case 100. Extending upwardly from the grid of members 121 and 122 are a plurality of instrument receiving members or posts 123. Posts 123 may be bolted (not shown) or otherwise affixed to the grid members 121 and 122 of the grid assembly 120.
Each of the posts 123 may have a hole 124 formed in the top portion thereof to receive a locking pin 125 of a retaining bar 126. The retaining bar 126 may be of any convenient length, such as the length of retaining bar 126 illustrated extending the entire length of the case 100; or such as the length of retaining bars 126' extending half the length of the case; or such as retaining bars 126" extending one-quarter the length of the case. The retaining bars may be held in position firmly by spring ball bearings 127 which are received by a corresponding mating hole 128 in the posts 123.
Thus, surgical instruments may be placed in the case by conveniently disposing them in a position with respect to the posts 123, such as stacking scissors 130 through the finger hold portions, as illustrated. Other surgical instruments may be likewise disposed upon other of the posts 123. The instruments may then be retained and held in position by insertion of the retaining bars 126.
It may be seen that the number of posts 123 may be chosen to best suit the particular function for which they may be intended, and the illustration of the grid assembly 120 having three columns and four rows and with retaining bars 126 extending entirely across the length, half way across the length, and a quarter of the way across the length, may be modified, depending upon the particular desired application. Additionally, it may be seen that other configurations of locking bars may be employed with equal benefit, for example, by modifying locking bars 126 into an L-shape, or other convenient shape to lock into appropriate posts 123.
In operation, sinks 14 and 15 of the ultrasonic cleaner are filled with an ultrasonic cleaning fluid,,such as water and appropriate detergent or the like, and the surgical instruments to be cleaned are placed in a case, such as the case illustrated in HQ 3, which is supported on the oscillating cradle 17 by members 18 within the cleaning fluid bath. The ultrasonic waves are initiated within the cleaning fluid by actuating transducers 16, the ultrasound therefrom penetrating into the interior of the carrying case to clean the instruments contained therein. Debris cleaned from the instrument is swept with the circulating fluid from sink 14 into sink 15 by circulating pump 32 and there removed from the cleaning fluid by the filter screen 31. After each cleaning process, or as often as practical, filter 31 may be replaced with a clean filter.
Throughout the cleaning process the oscillating assembly 21 is in operation, causing the oscillating cradle 17 to be rocked back and forth, perhaps in an arc of 30 on each side of the perpendicular. Thus, although there may be areas within the cleaning fluid at which the ultrasonic waves from transducers 16 are canceled due to interference therebetween, the instruments within the cases on the oscillating cradle 17 are swept through such null points to allow them to be completely exposed to the ultrasonic waves within the cleaning fluid.
At the completion of the cleaning process, the surgical cases and the contained instruments are removed from the cleaning bath and further treated in accordance with standard surgical practices. For example, the instruments may be exposed to an air-drying procedure followed by sterilization by autoclaving, exposure to gas, or exposure to radioactive rays, whichever is consistent with the particular instruments to be cleaned. It is to be noted that the instruments may be sterilized and entirely processed within the case 100 without being removed therefrom, thus minimizing the required handling. The entire case may then be wrapped in a suitable protective surgical envelope and may be conveniently stored with its contents ready for the next operation, which may, if desired, be performed from the instrument case directly, rather than going through the heretofore required instrument arranging procedures, above described.
Although the invention has been described and illustrated within a certain degree of particularity, it is to be understood that the present disclosure is made by way of example only and that various changes and modifications in the details of construction and in the combination and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as hereinafter claimed.
1. An ultrasonic cleaner for cleaning medical instruments and apparatuses comprising,
a sink including a floor and four upright walls defining an open top,
means for circulating filtered cleaning liquid through said sink,
a plurality of ultrasonic transducers carried by said sink,
said transducers being disposed at spaced apart and staggered positions about the interior of said sink,
means for actuating said transducers so as to emit ultrasonic waves therefrom for transmission through said liquid,
a cradle carried by said sink oscillatable among various angles with respect to the sink and the disposed transducers, including a frame, a plurality of retainers affixed to said frame,
means for oscillating said frame among said angles with respect to said sink and transducers in a back and forth rocking motion through a semicircular path within said liquid cutting across the paths of the ultrasonic waves emitted from said transducers to thereby minimize the ef fects of null points of the ultrasonic waves in the cleaning liquid,
a case for carrying said medical instruments and apparatuses including top and bottom box portions hingedly attached to define an enclosure therebetween in a closed position, and walls of said box having holes therein to allow ultrasonic waves to penetrate said enclosure, said case being removably mounted between said retainers in a fixed position with respect to said frame and oscillatable therewith,
means for carrying said instruments removably mounted within said enclosure, said means comprising a plurality of instrument receiving members for mounting and holding said instruments in open positions for maximum surface exposure to said ultrasonic waves and a plurality of locking members for locking said instruments in said open positions, each locking member being removably attached to at least one of said receiving members and, means for holding said top and bottom box portions together in said closed position for retaining said instruments in locked positions therewithin.