No assignee for this patent application has been made.
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "An elongate medical device, for example, a catheter or an endoscope, is an instrument introduced into the body for examination, surgical, diagnostic, therapeutic, or other medical purposes. Such a medical device may be inserted into a patient's internal structures, such as the esophagus, stomach, lungs, colon, uterus, urethra, kidney, and other organ systems. Conventional imaging endoscopes used for such procedures can include an illuminating mechanism, such as a fiber optic light guide connected to a proximal source of light, and an imaging means such as an imaging light guide to carry an image to a remote camera, or eye piece. In some instances, a miniature video camera may be placed within the endoscope itself. Additionally, many endoscopes include one or more working channels through which medical devices, such as biopsy forceps, snares, probes, and other tools, may be passed in order to perform a procedure at a desired location in a patient's body.
"Many procedures are directed to regions in the body that require an appropriately equipped medical device to be maneuverable to navigate complex and tortuous paths within a patient's body without causing trauma to the walls of the tract. To this end, such devices may include a means to deflect a distal tip, such as an articulation joint, to follow such paths. An articulation joint may be a flexible, steerable section at the tip of a medical device, such as an endoscope.
"To control the deflection of the distal tip, control members, such as cables or wires, are carried within the body of the elongate medical device to connect the articulation joint adjacent the distal end to a set of control knobs at a proximal end of a handle of the device. By manipulating the control knobs or other actuator, an operator is able to control tension applied to the articulation joint to steer the device during insertion and direct it to a region of interest in the patient's body.
"An articulation joint may include a series of stacked metal links held together by joints, such as pivot joints, where the links bend with respect to each other. These links may be, for example, stainless steel, and held together by a known fixation technique. For example, metal rivets or welded metal springs acting as hinge points for the links can be used. While an elongate medical device can be used in many procedures with such a design, and while metal rivets, for example, may create a robust and durable hinge point usable for numerous procedures, the number of parts and difficulties associated with automated manufacturing increase the cost of the device. Especially for disposable medical devices, it is desirable to keep costs low. Therefore, there is a need for an alternatively designed elongate medical device having an articulating portion that, among other things, can be manufactured at a lower cost. The devices described herein overcome these and/or other shortcomings in the existing technology."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In one aspect, an articulating portion for an elongate medical device is disclosed. The articulating portion may include a plurality of segments movable relative to one another, and a plurality of hinges disposed between adjacent segments. The segments can be configured to bend at the hinges upon manipulation of a control member of the device. The segments and the hinges can also be a single continuous piece of material.
"In another aspect, an articulating portion for an elongate medical device is disclosed. The articulating portion may include a plurality of segments movable relative to one another, and a plurality of hinges disposed between adjacent segments. At least one of the hinges may include a flexible connecting member fixed to the adjacent segments, having at least one lumen formed therein. The segments can be configured to bend at the hinges upon manipulation of a control member of the device.
"In yet another aspect, a method of manufacturing an articulating portion for an elongate medical device is disclosed. The method can include cutting a continuous shape from a sheet of material, where the continuous shape includes a plurality of strips. The method can further include rolling the shape into a tubular form, and fixing one edge of the shape to an other edge to maintain the tubular form. The plurality of strips can form hinges between adjacent segments of the articulating portion.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.
"FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an elongate medical device;
"FIG. 2 is a detail of an articulating portion of the elongate medical device according to a first embodiment;
"FIG. 3 is a view of a section of the articulation portion of the first embodiment;
"FIG. 4 shows a magnified perspective view of a section of the articulating portion of the first embodiment;
"FIG. 4A shows a perspective view of a hinge according to the first embodiment;
"FIG. 5 shows an alternative embodiment of the guide elements according to the first embodiment of the articulating portion;
"FIG. 6A is a view of a section of an articulating portion according to a second embodiment;
"FIG. 6B is a view of a section of an articulating portion according to a modified second embodiment;
"FIG. 7 is a view of a section of an articulating portion according to a third embodiment;
"FIG. 8 is a view of a section of an articulating portion according to a fourth embodiment;
"FIG. 9A is a perspective view of a section of an articulating portion according to a fifth embodiment;
"FIG. 9B is a perspective view of one of the connection members of the articulating portion according to the fifth embodiment;
"FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a section of an articulating portion according to a sixth embodiment; and
"FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a section of an articulating portion according to a seventh embodiment."
For additional information on this patent application, see: KAPPEL, Gary S.; MacNAMARA, Francis T.; SMITH, Paul; DeVRIES, Robert B.;
Keywords for this news article include: Patents.
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