|OR nurse holds the almost-invisible business end of the feeding tube sensor.
Syncro Medical, a medical device company, wanted to pioneer a smarter, better, and easier-to-administrate small bowel feeding tube for critical care patients.
Historically, feeding tubes had markings to indicate a certain insertion position length into the human body. Doctors would mark their measurements of the length on the tube that had descended into the human body; by pulling it out and measuring the Ph level on the stylet, the tip at the end of the feeding tube, they continued this process by trial and error. This proved cumbersome and resulted in a time-consuming and often uncomfortable task.
Other issues with traditional feeding tubes included the necessity of an average of three X-rays to confirm the position of the feeding tube, a lack of nutritional absorption, and small bowel infections.
The new proposed feeding tube, or Syncro BlueTube, as they coined it later, would allow the new and improved version to be placed without error in minutes rather than hours or days.
What they had in mind did not exist, but would be a brilliant solution to a major healthcare challenge. The concept was to use a large, handheld magnet on the outside of the patient's stomach to guide a magnet placed at the distal end of the feeding tube to its proper "feeding" position.
As a component of the proposed feeding tube, several reed switch specifications were given to Hermetic Switch, (HSI Sensing), for conformation, including a three- to five-inch window of operation from an external magnet to the feeding tube inside of the patients' body. Also, an LED indicator needed to signal when the medical technician has "gained capture," or obtained control of the distal tip magnet, and able to guide the feeding tube into the proper position.
Fateful Phone Call
Ray Morgan, HSI's Sales Manager, answered the phone inquiry about the feeding tube. As he recounted it, "I immediately jumped off of the phone and contacted David Posey," (HSI Sensing's President). After a quick discussion, Posey came up with a solution. "He suggested putting a reed switch into a ferrous metal housing, which would then shunt the magnetism away from the switch until there were sufficient magnetic strength to overcome the metal housing," said Morgan. "It was actually a very simple operation; we just needed to create the product and test it."
HSI performed the necessary tests, and determined the size of metal housing needed to meet the customer's stated operating distance of three to five inches. Within a matter of weeks, HSI was able to provide working samples. Morgan said, "We also learned that the metal housing had to be metallurgically dead soft, so that it would not retain the magnetism and hold the reed switch closed 100 percent of the time." The product was launched by HSI for Syncro Medical, and is known today as the PRX+1745.
There are quite a few immediate and significant benefits. First, there are the cost savings from the reduction in X-Rays, the lack of motility agents and antibiotics, and a reduced length of stay are all very real savings for hospitals.
The Syncro BlueTube can be placed inside of the patient in an average of nine minutes, rather than the hours or days with the old standard version, and this dramatically shortens the window of opportunity to be able to begin helping a patient.
HSI Sensing manufactures reed switches and proximity sensors. The company's production process is very precise and known for making the most difficult types of switches. Reed switches are manufactured so small, they easily fit inside a heart pacemaker as well as sensors which meet tough military standards for installation on aircraft engines and controls.
The company's employees receive many months of on-the-job training to develop skills in electroplating, glass sealing, electrical testing, precision cutting, and welding operations. The company designs, builds and maintains all of its special custom manufacturing equipment.
Pacemakers of the highest quality contain the world's smallest reed switch, which is made in HSI's hi-rel department. Additional applications have included use on the International Space Station, golf and turf equipment, hearing aids, valve controls, military radios, aircraft and hospital defibrillators.
Established in 1968, Hermetic Switch is an ISO 9001:2000-registered company that designs, develops, and manufactures reed switches, proximity sensors, and other sensing technologies. It provides custom and standard sensing solutions to industries that include aerospace, agricultural, computer/electronic, construction, fluid processing, lawn/garden/turf, medical, military, security, and telecommunications. Specific applications in which Hermetic products are used include burglar alarms, commercial and military jet engines, commercial lawn mowers, defibrillators, hearing aids, pacemakers, space station/space shuttle functions, test, measurement and diagnostic equipment (TMDE), Vagus nerve stimulators, valve-position monitoring devices, and wireless devices.
Contact: HSI Sensing, 3100 Norge Road, Chickasha, OK 73018 405-224-4046 fax: 405-224-9423 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.hsisensing.com