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Motor Sterility Management: Protecting vs. Autoclaving

January 15, 2021

Motor Sterility Management: Protecting vs. Autoclaving

Surgeries must be performed using sterile equipment to prevent infection. While some simple surgical tools can be manufactured inexpensive enough to be economically thrown away after each use, more sophisticated tools such as drills, saws, and shavers must be reusable and therefore sterilized. The motor is a critical part of these tools, and if not protected properly, its electronic components can be susceptible to the moisture and temperature of the steam sterilization process (autoclave).

Some tool designers attempt to avoid this problem by locating the motor far back in the tool so that it does not come into contact with contaminated material. The motor can then be removed from the tool along with the battery and wiped down rather than autoclaved with the rest of the tool. However, this approach leaves a risk that contamination can reach the motor and cause infection during subsequent surgeries. It also requires complex mechanisms to transfer the rotation of the motor through the sterile barrier to drive the cutting implement. This adds cost, failure modes, and efficiency losses to the tool design.

Fortunately, tools can achieve superior sterilization safety while maintaining the highest reliability and performance by using sterilizable motors from Portescap. These motors include sophisticated protection from moisture ingress that allows them to survive thousands of autoclave cycles along with the many other rigors of surgical applications. Top surgical tool OEMs have trusted Portescap motors for decades to extend the life of their tools to reduce the cost per surgery while delivering top of the line performance and outcomes.