Pump it up

Published: Friday 31 July 1998

Accidents in the operating theatre can now be reduced significantly, thanks to a new, cordless portable vacuum cleaner developed at Northwestern University in Illinois, USA, that removes fluids easily and efficiently. At present, most surgeons use suction tubes from central vacuum systems mounted on the wall to remove blood, saline solution and other fluids from the wounds as they operate. However, these tubes frequently get in the way of the doctors, says Richard Lueptow, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Northwestern. "For most operations with large volumes of fluid, they work pretty well, but for some procedures, the long tube is a nuisance," he says. "So we thought it would be worth developing a device similar to a portable vacuum cleaner, but for sucking up fluid from a surgical site." The team built a small vacuum pump with a rechargable battery that provides power for six hours, and a container that holds 500 millilitres of fluid matter.

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