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Pelvic Splint Provides Safety, Access

Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry Magazine MDDI Article Index Originally Published MDDI July 2005 R&D DIGEST  

Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry Magazine
MDDI Article Index

Originally Published MDDI July 2005

R&D DIGEST

Maria Fontanazza

The splint laterally compresses the pelvis, while giving physicians access to areas that may have serious injuries.

A new pelvic splint was designed to provide access to areas that can't be reached with current designs.

The splint laterally compresses the pelvis, stabilizing the bone structure without exerting too much pressure. That helps prevent additional or recurrent injury, while allowing easy access to nearby internal body parts that could also have been injured.

The main difference between this one-size-fits-all splint and others is the rigid plates that project over the abdomen, says its inventor, Seth M. Manoach, MD. Manoach is the assistant professor of emergency medicine at the State University of New York's (SUNY; Albany, NY) Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Initial support for the project came from the Research Foundation of SUNY.

If there's too much pressure on the belly and a splint is kept on for too long, the skin can break down. “This puts the patient at a higher risk for infection and makes the ultimate repair of the pelvis complicated,” he says. Excessive pressure can also put stress on breathing.

Manoach is now looking for help in perfecting the device.

“I designed the working prototype, but I'm a physician, not an engineer,” he says. The basic device is functional, but an engineer could produce a more efficient design. Cosmetic changes would also create a more user-friendly appearance.

The current prototype has adjustable straps and an inflatable bladder. Its two rigid sidewalls and seamless back keep skin from being exposed.

Seth M. Manoach, MD, and the Research Foundation of SUNY are looking for a partner company to improve and market the device.

Potential additions to the splint include a pressure gauge to allow inflation of the bladder to a range that effectively compresses the pelvis without causing harm. Manoach also suggests putting a small pressure gauge on each side. A system that periodically inflates and deflates the bladders would reduce pressure on the skin and might extend the time that the splint can stay on. “Instead of leaving it on for 6 hours, you could leave it on for a few days.” Another possibility involves incorporating the splint into a backboard unit.

People who have pelvic injuries often have other serious injuries, such as spleen or liver lacerations. Manoach didn't want the design to complicate examining the abdomen, femoral, or genital areas. “I wanted all the compression to be from lateral to median, with minimal skin complications and maximum access to other injuries,” says Manoach. “This device gets around these issues.”

Manoach works in a busy trauma center, but he doesn't see a lot of pelvic fractures because there are few major highways at his location. However, he says, “Most emergency rooms in this country get trauma from auto accidents. I haven't had to treat that patient population.”

For creating a finished device, Manoach is open to suggestions. “I'd really love to find a company that can develop it.” The Research Foundation of SUNY is equally eager, he says.

Copyright ©2005 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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