The CleanCut concept aims to improve upon an important aspect of commonly used electrosurgery devices – the tips. It was created by a group of design students at TU Delft in the Netherlands and received an Honorable Mention in the Autodesk, Core77, and iFixit’s “Design for (Your) Product Lifetime” competition.
Designed for the developed world, these tips are considered consumables; that is, they are designed to be used once and then disposed of. Electrosurgery can be used for nearly all modern surgeries, and especially in areas of high vascularity. These electrosurgery units are commonly donated to developing nations, where they quickly fall out of use when the initial supply of tips runs out and no replacements can be found or purchased.
The design concept of the CleanCut team was simply to design an electrosurgery tip that could be easily sterilized using an autoclave (a very common and cheap piece of equipment similar to a pressure cooker that sterilizes medical equipment using steam and high heat). To be compatible with repeated autoclaving the device had to be made easily to disassemble and be built of inert materials that could stand up to the aggressive conditions of an autoclave. They additionally moved the controls that typically exist on the handheld part of the device to a foot control, which again allows for simpler design and easier sterilization of the device.
While there are some potential concerns with their design concept, such as the feasibility of a return & replacement service in countries with poor infrastructure and high transportation costs, and the lack of consistent electrical supply in most developing areas, the overall concept is a good one. Physical prototyping and additional design iterations should help the team refine their concept even more and will hopefully lead to a product that could truly help patients all over the world.
You can learn more about the CleanCut concept here [PDF]