FLEXIBLE SURGICAL STAPLER ASSEMBLY
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The invention herein relates to a surgical stapler in- 5 strument and, more particularly, to a flexible surgical stapler instrument and assembly which consists of a staple firing head assembly and which is interconnected through a flexible coupling to a handle actuator assembly. 10
The field of surgicial stapling has grown since its inception in the 1960's. During this time of growth, basically four different types of stapling instruments have developed. One type of stapling instrument is a skin stapling instrument used to close wounds on the 15 skin. A second type of stapling instrument is a surgical stapling instrument which is used for inverted linar anastomosis or gastrointestinal anastomosis. Such an instrument is designed to provide a side by side connection of two lumens of organs. Such instruments gener- 20 ally include two double rows of staples with a cutting blade between the double rows.
Another common surgical instrument is a thoracic abdominal instrument which produces a linear suture line with a double staggered row of staples. Such an 25 instrument generally consists of a C-shaped frame. A disposable anvil for forming the staples adapts to a fixed outer limb of the C of the instrument, and a disposable staple cartridge adapts to a corresponding inner limb of the C-shaped instrument. 30
Another surgical stapling instrument is an end to end anastomosis surgical stapling instrument. In such an instrument, the lumen of an organ is rejoined, such as, for example, two bowel segments are rejoined end to end. Such an instrument generally provides a double 35 row of staples and a cutting blade. The double row of staples provide the means for connecting the lumens end to end while the cutting blade removes that portion of the organ extending inwardly of the lumen at the connection site. 40
In the surgical stapling instruments, there is a staple firing head and a handle assembly for firing the staples. Currently, such instruments include a mechanical linkage between the handle actuator and the staple firing head in order to fire the staples. In use, it is often diffi- 45 cult to position a stapling instrument in order to insure a proper and acceptable connection or joining of the tissue. This is often due to the differing locations where the stapling instrument is being used and where the joining of tissue is occurring. It would be desirable to 50 provide stapling instruments which would have a stapling firing head assembly which could be readily positioned at the tissue site to be joined and which would provide flexibility between such stapling firing head and the handle actuator assembly. Such flexibility would 55 also be desirable on an end to end anastomosis instrument as it would allow insertion of the staple firing head or flexible connector through tortuous passages of an organ such as the sigmoid colon.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention herein is directed to a flexible surgical stapling assembly which includes a staple firing head assembly which is flexibly interconnected to a handle actuator assembly. More particularly, the flexible surgi- 65 cal stapler assembly herein is directed to a staple firing head assembly which is connected to a handle actuator assembly through a length of flexible cable which per
mits the staple firing head assembly to be readily positioned regardless of the orientation of the handle actuator assembly.
Another feature of the flexible surgical stapler assembly herein is that the handle actuator assembly can be used with a variety of staple firing head assemblies. That is, for example, the handle actuator assembly of the flexible surgical stapler assembly herein can be used with a thoracic abdominal staple firing head assembly and with an end to end anastomosis head assembly.
The flexible surgical stapler assembly herein includes a staple firing head assembly connected through a length of flexible cable to a handle actuator assembly. The staple firing head assembly includes an anvil assembly defining an anvil surface which provides an array of staple forming depressions. The anvil assembly can be a disposable anvil which is mounted on the staple firing head assembly. The staple firing head assembly also includes a staple housing which carries an array of staples. The staple housing can be a disposable staple cartridge which can be inserted in the staple firing head assembly. The anvil assembly is spaced from the staple housing assembly by a gap sufficient for receiving the tissue to be stapled. The anvil/staple housing gap can be controlled via a knob located at the end of the handle actuator assembly to provide an adjustment for differing thickness of tissues. The staples can be provided in any array depending on the end use of the surgical stapler assembly. A staple pusher is also provided in the staple firing head assembly. The staple pusher cooperates with the staple housing and aligns with the staples in the housing. Upon actuation of the stapler instrument, the staple pusher exerts a force on the staples or on staple drivers in the staple housing to remove the staples from the staple housing and to form the staples against the depressions in the anvil surface.
The handle actuator assembly includes a housing which defines an inner chamber. A cable carrier is slidable within the inner chamber or cavity. A length of flexible cable is connected at one of its ends to the cable carrier. The remaining end of the length of the flexible cable is connected to the anvil assembly of the staple firing head assembly. A handle is provided on the housing of the handle actuator assembly. The handle is operatively connected or connectable to the cable carrier for moving the cable carrier and thereby the cable to concomitantly force the staples out of the staple housing and form the staples against the depressions on the anvil surface.
The flexible surgical stapler assembly herein primarily consists of a handle actuator assembly which includes a cable carrier attached to a length of flexible cable and a handle which can be connected to the cable carrier for moving the cable carrier and cable relative to the handle actuator assembly. The remaining end of the cable is attached to the anvil assembly in the staple firing head assembly. As the handle is depressed to move the cable carrier, it also moves the cable. As the cable moves, it also moves the anvil. It should also be noted that as the tissue is approximated between the anvil assembly and staple housing assembly by rotation of the knob on the handle actuator assembly, the cable and anvil move due to the rotation of the knob. The anvil moves toward the staple housing which is positioned between the anvil and handle actuator assembly. As the anvil moves toward the staple housing, the anvil assembly exerts a force on the staple housing and it