US 3840004 A
An otoscope includes a speculum joined to the head thereof by means of an annular groove and an annular rib. The speculum is of an inexpensive synthetic resin and is disposable. The speculum is sufficiently flexible so that it can be separated from the head by manually applied force.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
mted States Patent 1191 1111 3, eine Oct. 8, 1974  OTOSCOPE WITH DISPOSABLE 2,098,702 11/1937 Gagnon 128/9 S ULU 2,118,523 5/1938 Pitman 128/6 2,797,684 7/1957 Moore 128/9 Inventor: elmut A. H me, H rr Chmg/ 2,962,187 11 1960 Morris 220/60 R Germany 2,974,825 3/1961 Ross 220/60 R [731 Assig ees: optotec n e ne 3,417,746 12/1968 Moore et a1. 128/6 Herrsching/Obb, Germany; Propper FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS Manufwuring p y 1119-, g 1,026,208 4/1966 Great Britain 128/9 Island City, NY.
 Fil d; J 26, 1973 Primary Examiner-Lucie H. Laudenslager Attorney, Agent, or FirmBlum Moscovitz Friedman  Appl. No.: 327,037 & Kaplan  US. Cl. 128/9 57 ABSTRACT  An otoscope includes a speculum joined to the head 128/1 1 l 6 A d h thereof by means of an annular groove and an annular DIG l0 DIG rib. The speculum is of an inexpensive synthetic resin and is disposable. The speculum is sufficiently flexible 56] References Cited so that it can be separated from the head by manually 1' d f UNITED STATES PATENTS app Owe 1,896,720 2/1933 Patterson 128/9 6 Clam, 4 Drawmg F'gures 1 OTOSCOPE WITH DISPOSABLE SPECULUM joined to one end of the handle and a speculum fitted to one end of the head. The head is hollow and so arranged that the physician using the otoscope looks into the end of the head which is opposite that holding the speculum. The proximal end of the head may be covered with a window or with a magnifying lens.
Similar devices are used for inspection of other orifices in the body such as for nostrils, the mouth, the vagina and the rectum. The term otoscope as used in the present application is intended to include all such devices which include a speculum.
It frequently is essential that the speculum be sterile prior to insertion into an orifice. This is particularly the case where an infection is present, so that a second use of a specific speculum would introduce the danger of cross-infection. In recognition of this danger, a variety of otoscope designs have been employed in which the speculum can be separated from the head of the otoscope for purposes of sterilization as by use of an autoclave. Otoscopes employing disposable specula are also known but these suffer from a number of disadvantages such as difficulty in assembly and removal and lack of air-tight join between the speculum and the otoscope. The lack of an air-tight join makes it impossible to use the instrument for pneumatic examination of any of the orifices.
In previous otoscopes featuring disposable specula including those of US. Design Pat. No. 221,109 and German Gebrauchsmuster No. 6,928,391, provision for an air-tight seal between the speculum and the head of the otoscope has been lacking so that examination of orifices under pneumatic pressure has been difficult, if not impossible. This lack is overcome in the present invention.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An otoscope in accordance with the present invention has a flexible and disposable speculum joined airtightly to a head by means of an annular groove in one and an annular rib on the other, the rib and the groove being so disposed that the rib snaps into the groove when'the wider end of the speculum is pressed against the head. For this purpose, the speculum must be somewhat flexible and yet sturdy enough to retain its shape during use and to withstand the moderate pressures used in pneumatic examination. With a speculum sufficiently flexible so that the rib can be snapped into the groove, the speculum can also be detached from the head of the otoscope by pressing same against the edge of a table or applying manual pressure. Nevertheless, the join is sufficiently firm so that accidental dislodging during use is impossible. The material of which the speculum is made is preferably an opaque sythentic resin which can be sterilized by gammairradiation, autoclaving or treatment with an appropriate bactericidal solution.
Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide an improved otoscope having a disposable speculum.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an improved otoscope wherein the join between the head and the speculum is air-tight.
A further object of the present invention is to provide an improved otoscope in which the speculum is of a synthetic opaque plastic.
An important object of the present invention is to provide an improved otoscope in which the speculum is of a molded synthetic plastic.
A significant object of the present invention is to provide an improved otoscope wherein the speculum can be removed from same by pressing said speculum against the edge of a table or the like, or by manual pressure.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an improved otoscope in which the join between the speculum and head of the otoscope is formed by a rib in one and a groove in the other.
Still other objects and advantages of the invention will in part be obvious and will in part be apparent from the specification.
The invention accordingly comprises an article of manufacture possessing the features, properties, and the relation of elements which will be exemplified in the article hereinafter described, and the scope of the invention will be indicated in the claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING For a fuller understanding of the invention, reference is had to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawing, in which:
FIG. 1 is a side view in partial section of a speculum in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a side view of another embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a side view of an otoscope handle and head designed to receive the embodiment of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 4 is a side view in partial section of an otoscope handle and head designed to receive the speculum of FIG. .2.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The otoscopes of the present invention are designed for formation of an air-tight join between the head and the speculum thereof so as to make feasible the use of the otoscope for pneumatic examination of an orifice. In the embodiment of a speculum shown in FIG. I, the speculum generally indicated by the reference numeral 1 is essentially frustoconical in shape. The larger end 2 has a groove 3 on the interior thereof. In the preferred form, the groove, in cross-section, is V-shaped. The matching head indicated generally by the reference numeral 9 in FIG. 3 has an annular rib 6 around one end thereof. The material of which speculum l is made, is preferably synthetic plastic and is sufficiently flexible so that when speculum 1 is pressed against the circular rib 6 of head 9, the speculum will expand sufficiently to snap into place over rib 6, locking speculum l to head 9 sufiiciently firmly so that accidental dislodgment during use is impossible. Nevertheless, where the speculum is sufficiently flexible so that it can be snapped into place easily over the rib 6, it can be dislodged intentionally by pressing the speculum against the edge of a table or the like or by pressure from the fingers. The cross-section of the rib 6 is preferably circular or rounded in such a way that it will seat on both faces of the groove 3. Consequently, two seals are formed simultaneously when the speculum is pressed over the rib 6 and head 9. As is obvious, if the head is to be used for pneumatic examination, the face must be covered with a transparent window which may be either flat or lens-shaped.
A second embodiment of the otoscope of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. In this embodiment, the rib, of circular or rounded cross-section identified by the reference numeral 7 is at the larger end of the speculum generally indicated by the reference numeral 11, and V-grooved 8 is in the head generally indicated by the reference numeral 12. Again, the flexibility of the speculum must be so chosen that the rib 7 can be snapped into the V-groove 8 without difficulty and yet be held firmly enough therein so that an accidental dislodgment is impossible. As with the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 3, the speculum 11 can be removed from the head 12 by pressing the speculum against the edge of a table or by pressure from the fingers.
For reasons of economy, as well as to achieve sufficient flexibility, the speculum should be as thin as is commensurate with the degree of strength required for withstanding the moderate pressure used during pneumatic examination. Suitable materials are ABS (acrylonitrile-butadienestyrene copolymer), polystyrene, polyester, polyacrylic, polyvinyl chloride, phenalformaldehyde and urea-formaldehyde, among others. Where necessary, pigment is used to render the speculum essentially opaque.
It will thus be seen that the objects set forth above, among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efficiently attained and, since certain changes may be made in the above article without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description and shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
It is also to be understood that the following claims are intended to cover all of the generic and specific features of the invention herein described, and all statements of the scope of the invention which, as a matter of language, might be said to fall therebetween.
1. An otoscope suitable for pneumatic examination of an orifice comprising a handle, a head on said handle, joined air-tightly to said handle and a disposable. essentially frustoconical speculum, one of said head and the larger end of said speculum having an annular rib thereon and the other of said head and the larger end of said speculum having an annular groove therein, said groove and rib being so disposed and and shaped and said speculum being sufficiently flexible that said speculum can be joined to and separated from said head with said rib and groove forming an essentially gas-tight join using only manually applied force.
2. An otoscope as defined in claim 1, wherein said annular groove is in said head and said annular rib is on said speculum.
3. An otoscope as defined in claim 1, wherein said annular groove is in said speculum and said annular rib is on said head.
4. An otoscope as defined in claim 1, wherein said speculum is of a molded synthetic plastic.
5. An otoscope as defined in claim 1, wherein said speculum is of an essentially opaque material selected from the group consisting of ABS, polystyrene, polyester, polyacrylic, polyvinyl chloride, phenolformaldehyde or urea-fomaldehyde, said material containing enough pigment to render same essentially opaque.
6. A disposable essentially frustoconical speculum adapted to form a gas-tight seal proximate the larger end thereof with the distal end of an otoscope suitable for pneumatic examination of an orifice, one of said larger end and the distal end of said otoscope having an external annular rib and the other having an internal groove, said rib and groove being adapted to form a gas-tight join by snapping said rib into said groove.