You'd think a sterile fluid would be a professional's first choice when it comes to cleaning a wound. However, doctors have often used other methods in the past. For example, they cut dead tissue away with a scalpel, dress wounds with absorptive tissues, or even use the larvae of flies. Each method has its upsides and downsides. With the scalpel, for example, there is a high risk of cutting away either too much or too little. In recent years, medical engineers have developed new methods for thorough and efficient wound cleaning that involves the removal of dead tissue. “Debridement” is the technical term for this kind of treatment.
The functional principle of a pressure washer
A promising new approach is wound cleaning using micro water jet technology. The pump generates a high pressure and directs the sterile fluid at the wound through the nozzle. The principle is similar to that of a pressure washer that people use to remove moss from the flagstones in their gardens – or at any rate, this is the metaphor that the Swiss company Medaxis chose to explain the function of their product. After several years of development and testing, the company's debritom+ system has been on the market since early 2018 and will soon be used in outpatient wound care facilities and emergency rooms all over the world. The prospects seem good: Medaxis already has received a regional innovation award for its device.
Restarting the healing process
The debritom+ cleaning system is mainly designed to benefit patents who are struggling with chronic or slow-healing wounds. Such wounds are highly detrimental to the patient's quality of life and require regular therapy. To relaunch the healing process, thorough and careful cleaning is needed. The micro water jet technology enables clean and precise removal of infected and damaged tissue. At the same time, the focused water jet causes micro-bleeding, which additionally improves the outcome. This has been confirmed by a study in which 90 patients were treated with the micro water jet technology over a period of three years. The healing time for their wounds was reduced by about 30 percent compared with other methods.
Compact design and high torque
As a start-up with seven employees, Medaxis retained the services of the medical engineering firm Carag next door for the development of its debritom+ wound cleaning system. The specialists at Carag faced the challenge of modernizing the predecessor model while complying with all the medical standards. One of the things the engineers did was to replace the pneumatic drive of the pump system with an electric motor: the maxon EC flat 90. This brushless flat motor delivers high torque from a compact design. Via a toothed belt, it drives a crankshaft with two cylinders. This provides for a mild pulsation in the water jet. Single-use pumps isolate the drive system from the water circuit for compliance with applicable hygiene requirements.
Initial feedback about the debritom+ has already arrived from the hospitals – and it is positive, according to Melanie Süss, who is in charge of communications at Medaxis: “There are always some reservations in the beginning. However, once the wound specialists get to use the micro water jet technology, they are very excited about it.”