In standard catheter-cutting operations, the waste material, or chad, may not completely detach from the tube, or it may detach but remain lodged within the catheter. If not detected during the manufacturing process, the chad can migrate into the patient. Addressing this issue, Rainbow Medical Engineering Ltd. (Letchworth Garden City, UK) has developed an ultrasonic catheter-cutting machine that incorporates a vacuum system for preventing chads from endangering patient safety. At the same time, the unit produces burr-free tubing edges. As a result of its breakthrough capability, the system has been crowned the Best Technology Application at the 2009 Plastics Industry Awards in London. Adopted by several manufacturers in Europe and the Asia/Pacific region, the technology uses a vacuum to collect chads, which are passed through an electronic counter. If an anomaly is detected, processing is halted automatically. The production cycle cannot be restarted until the faulty catheter has been physically removed. Data cited by Rainbow Medical show that 44% of hospital patients with an indwelling urinary catheter develop bacterial infections within 72 hours of catheterization. Infections occur in the tissue damaged by the catheter or can result from bacterial encrustation caused by burrs on the edges of the catheter apertures. Rainbow Medical's ultrasonic cutting system produces measurably smoother, burr-free edges on the apertures than conventional systems, according to the company.
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