Superbugs Could Mean Medical Cable Assembly Changes

Qmed Staff

January 12, 2016

2 Min Read
Superbugs Could Mean Medical Cable Assembly Changes

The silicone-jacketed cable could be on its way out as medtech companies move toward more single-use medical devices.

Qmed Staff

Deadly U.S. superbug outbreaks involving certain types of endoscopes could spell change when it comes to the silicone-jacketed cables used on many surgical tools and medical devices, according to Qmed's sister media outlet DesignNews.

That's because medical device OEMs are looking at making more single-use camera-based surgical instruments, including fiber optic endoscopes. Silicone cabling has not been a problem when it comes to keeping such devices sterilized, but the cost dynamics do not work well when the devices are only used once.

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are among the materials that could become go-to materials for cabling assemblies, DesignNews reports.

More than 20 people have died and dozens more were sickened in recent years from infections in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Seattle that were related to a specific type of endoscope called a duodenoscope.

Olympus is the major U.S. seller of duodenoscopes, which are threaded down through the digestive tract and into the small intestine. Fujifilm, and Pentax's Hoya Corp. also sell models.

Duodenoscopes provide the least invasive way of draining fluids from pancreatic and biliary ducts blocked by cancerous tumors, gallstones, or other conditions. But FDA is now warning that the duodenoscopes' movable "elevator" mechanism, located at the tip, might improve efficiency and effectiveness, but has proven challenging to disinfect.

By fall 2015, FDA was expanding its warnings to include flexible bronchoscopes made by Olympus and other companies. 

Chris Newmarker is senior editor of Qmed and MPMN. Follow him on Twitter at @newmarker.

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