When talking about the use of miniature motors in medicine, people usually think about prosthetics and exoskeletons. But there’s a wider range of uses for these motors than just those. Here are some examples:
Drills, Shavers, Saws and Screwdrivers
These tools are necessities in the operating room, especially in the fields of orthopedics. After all, surgeons cannot simply use common hardware tools to operate on human bone. Spine drills, large bone orthopedic saws, and arthroscopic joint shavers both contain small brushless DCmotors that run the grinding tip against the bone for clean incisions.Even surgical screwdrivers for installing screws—such as those used in operations to repair the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)—also use these miniature BLDC motors.
Powered Surgical Staples
Of course, if you can use motorized tools to separate or cut parts of the body, there are also ways to put themback together using tools with mini motors. A great example would be surgical staples, which eliminate the need to manually sew incisions together. This device also reduces the impact of stapling around the surrounding tissues.
Dental Hand Tools
In a way, some dental tools—like drills for teeth—utilize mini motors in the same way as their larger counterparts in orthopedics. That said, there are also unique applications for these small machines in the dental field, such as electric toothbrushes that are used during prophylaxis.
Not everything that needs to be injected into the body of a patient can be handled by a syringe. Some liquid medicines are simply just too viscous. That’s where auto injectors come into play. These devices, which are often the size and shape of a pen, contain a mechanism to make injection easy. While most auto injectors are simply spring-loaded and disposable, high-end reusable versions have small motors that ensure only an accurate amount of the drug is dispensed.
You can’t talk of injections and miniature motors without mentioning mesotherapy guns. Like auto injectors, these guns utilize motor technology to accurately and efficiently make multiple injections of pharmaceutical solutions or vitamins under the skin. Since these injections are microscopic, you get to avoid visible scarring.
Cancer patients also benefit from the invention of these miniature motors, as machines for 3D conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT) and image-guided radiation therapy have them. Small motors allow these machines to offer precision radiation targeting, helping reduce the risk of damaging healthy tissue during treatment.
Of course, it’s not just the tools for treatment that make use of small motors. Laboratory equipment, ranging from diagnostic machines to one used for research, also make use of these miniature motors. With automated sample processing, patients can expect more accurate results, delivered faster. Even biopsy results can be obtained quicker, as there are now handheld biopsy devices that make use of small motors.
As these examples show, there’s a wide range of applications for miniature motors in medicine. So the next time you get confined at a hospital, it’s not just the doctors and nurses you should thank—you should also thank the engineers behind these innovative devices.