Medical Cables – The Ultimate Guide to How to Improve Quality

A place where life or death situations unfold needs to be equipped with highly durable and reliable equipment. The equipment needs to be in top shape at any time in preparation for any emergencies that might require their use. Hence, a medical cable must be manufactured with strict adherence to industry standards. Industry standards hold that a medical cable must have high degrees of properties such as flexibility, durability, and resistance to sterilization methods. Also, medical cables must be capable of repelling airborne chemicals and particles, as well as EMI interference. Also, the medical wires you use around MRI machines must be free of any trace of magnetic materials like iron. Such cables must be made from medically transparent resins. This dossier sheds insightful light on these medical cable properties and much more, exploring the world of medical cable inside out.

CHAPTER 1: Medical Cable

 A medical cable is a sophisticated cord made from the highest grade of materials due to the sensitivity of its applications. Medical cables are usually made of silicon and low-friction coating, which imbue them with excellent capabilities and long-standing durability.

Medical cables can also be made from other medical grade materials such as TPE and polyurethane.

Medical cables are critical to the safety and performance of medical devices. As such, they’re critical to a medical device’s chances of success in FDA tests.

They help facilitate proper interconnections in medical facilities. Medical cables also facilitate potting and pressure tests, as well as the control of statistical process and serialization.

A medical cable is usually highly flexible to prevent kinking. Medical cables are also normally temperature-resistant because you’ll most likely subject them to sterilization on a frequent basis.

However, many medical cables are disposable, depending on the application they are using. Moreover, there are medical cables for hundreds of various healthcare applications.

These include patient monitoring, electro-surgery, bionics, cardiac therapy, nuclear medicine, optical enhancements, ultrasound, and lots more.

Each of these applications has different requirements for medical cables. Hence, a medical cable assembly manufacturer must be able to meet various specifications according to the peculiarities of its application and devices.

They must be capable of creating excellent cable designs such as connectors, custom over-molding, moisture proof, and disposable and reusable, lots more. In general, reusable cables are usually resistant to chemicals and sterilization techniques such as steam, gamma, ETO, and many others.

Wiring configurations, as well, as intermittent connections, can make or mar the efficiency of a medical cable. As such, many manufacturers subject medical cable assemblies to electrical tests to eliminate the possibilities of these defects.

Medical cable manufacturers deploy thorough-going inspection processes at various stages of the fabrication processes as quality checks.

Now, let’s give you a closer look at the various applications of medical cables and their unique medical cable requirements.

CHAPTER 2: Medical Cable Application

 

Cosmetic Surgery

Medical cables are critical to the successful use of ultrasound, RF, microwave, and other medical technologies to execute cosmetic procedures. These applications have intricate energy delivery and process monitoring requirements. Due to the nature of their application, cosmetic surgery medical cables usually come in ergonomic aesthetically-pleasing packaging. Also due to the nature of their application, many medical cables come with applicators that can be changed quickly and easily.

Defibrillation

For cables used in emergency response medical facilities, durability and reliability are the two most critical qualities. Medical cables for emergency response facilities are used both within the hardware and the paddle assemblies that come in contact with the patient. They also provide safe, reliable and straightforward energy delivery solutions for such applications.

Electrophysiology

Medical cables for this application facilitate the collection of data points that facilitate the monitoring of low electrical pulses in the heart.

In order to do so, these medical cables usually support excellent signal integrity. They generate signals that help identify the site where the occurrence of arrhythmias must be eliminated through ablative energy.

You’ll find that they usually come with high-density connectors. They’re usually sturdy and reliable, as they must be used repeatedly for precise heart mapping intelligence.

Electrosurgical Applications

Due to the nature of this application, medical cables for this application are usually single-use, disposable types, for cost-effective risk management.

Imaging

The use of imaging is gaining more use in diagnostics, surgery, therapy delivery, and so on. It is especially true in applications such as fluoroscopy, MRI, X-ray, PET, CT, and many more.

This proliferation of use is, in turn, giving rise to a growing need for medical cables that enhance image quality cost-effectively.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Medical cables are critical to image delivery in minimally invasive surgical procedures, such as those involving the use of endoscopes. They help minimize trauma in surgery patient, helping accelerate healing by extension.

Medical cables for endoscopy are usually made of fiber optics and fiber materials.

These cables must facilitate the delivery of high-quality images on numerous iterations after several sterilization cycles, as efficiently as they deliver on first-time use.

Patient Monitoring

Medical cables for patient monitoring are designed to facilitate reliable transmission of patient information to those looking after patients. They’re critical to the verification of the efficacy of the treatment you administer to a patient.

Patient monitoring medical cables are usually designed with ergonomics and aesthetics as critical considerations. Moreover, since you’ll most likely be using them frequently, they usually very durable, safe and easy to deploy.

Now, each of the applications mentioned above uses different types of medical cables. The following chapter delves into the various types of medical cables.

CHAPTER 3: Medical Cable types

Single-Use Medical Cable

To minimize the risks of spreading infections, you need to dispose of a medical cable that’s attached to a patient after a single use. Disposable medical cables are cost-effective risk-minimization measures that come in handy especially in public medical facilities.

You’ll find disposable medical cables used regularly in electrosurgical devices, ultrasonic scalpel, surgical monitoring, and so on.

Since they’re to be disposed of after the first use, they usually come pre-packaged and sterile. Some disposable medical cables are designed to withstand autoclave sterilization so that they can be suited to repeated use (only just a few times, though).

Power Supply Cables

The UL regulation 60601 stipulates the acceptable standards for power supply medical cables. The provision holds that power plugs must be made of solid brass, and exhibit strain relief, with minimal current leakage.

The provision also states that the cords must pass the proper grounding tests.

Every equipment operates with a unique circuitry, hence the variety of power-plug blades of hospital equipment. There’s a particular blade configuration that’s the most appropriate for each unique circuitry.

Coiled Cables

These types of cables are the most appropriate for use in equipment where mobility and foldability are crucial factors. These include equipment with sliding and rotating components, including X-ray machine heads, MRI and CAT scan machines.

Retractable cords can also help you avoid the dangers of working with dangling power cords on portable mobile equipment. Unlike long cords, you won’t have to deal with entangled and knotted cords when using coiled cords.

It can significantly enhance the convenience of use of equipment. It is even more beneficial in the use of machines that run with large bunches of cords.

Patient Monitoring Cables

Devices that monitor patient information such as blood pressure, respiration, EEG, ECG, and vital signs, need cords with plenty of connectors. Since you’ll most likely make use of numerous electrodes on a patient, you’ll need various connectors.

Also, for a number of reasons, including for coming into direct contact with the patient, many monitoring cables are disposable by design. For starters, connectors are used to connect individual leads. Moreover, the leads are susceptible to wear, so you need to replace them regularly.

However, the lead components are usually the only responsive element in patient many monitoring cables, hence the low maintenance needs of these cables.

All in all, patient monitoring cables are usually made of flexible, durable materials with excellent strain relief qualities. They come with a slender finish that prevents abrasion or adhesion to a patient’s skin.

Ultrasonic Cables

Due to the need for mobility in the use of ultrasonic equipment, ergonomics is at the heart of the designs of ultrasonic cables. Because they’re carried continuously around by technicians during use, ultrasonic devices require cables that are lightweight and flexible.

The flexibility of high wires is usually a result of the multiple copper wire strands components.

Now, to shed more light on all of these medical cord types, we’ll show you details of how they assembled. The next chapter covers medical cable assembly.

CHAPTER 4: Medical Cable Assembly

 Medical cable assemblies are primarily used to connect medical and laboratory equipment. A medical cable assembly comprises of a band of individual cables attached to connectors on at least one end.

They’re usually designed to transmit power, data, and electrical pulses.

In order to minimize the risk of scratching and sticking on patients, they usually possess low surface friction qualities. In addition, they usually come with anti-abrasion jackets that also enhance their durability.

Other standard features of medical cable assemblies include high flexibility to prevent kinking. Another is temperature resistance that allows them to last through several turns of autoclave sterilization.

However, note that it’s advisable to check for the biocompatibility of a medical cable if its outer jacket is to contact the patient’s body.

Types of Medical Assemblies

Equipment and Sub-assembly Interfaces

These types of assemblies come installed in equipment from the factory. However, you can replace them to make upgrades and retrofits.

You’ll find these types of assemblies in nuclear imaging devices.

Communications Interfaces

These cables are usually made from fiber optics, serial or local area network.

Patient Interfaces

Although they have good durability, these types of medical cable assemblies come in need of replacement multiple times during an equipment’s lifecycle.

You can provide performance upgrades for certain patient interface components instead of completely replacing them. However, you’ll eventually need to replace them due to age-related and use-induced degradation.

There are many sub-categories in the patient interface category. There is the long-life patient interface, used mainly in ultrasound imaging and ECG diagnostics.

There’s also the limited-use interface, used mainly in ICU and CCU monitors. They come with a limited shelf-life because they’re frequently exposed to mechanical stress and sterilization procedures.

There’s also the use-only interfaces used majorly in neural simulator lead sets, fetal monitoring cables, catheters, and electro-surgical devices. They’re designed to be discarded after a single use.

All in all, these cable assemblies are usually produced in line with medical cable industry security standards and certification criteria.

CHAPTER 5: Medical Cable Security and Certificate

 The main factors that differentiate medical cables from those of other industries include the provisions for bio-compatibility, sterilization, and lumen generation.

Medical cables are usually manufactured in compliance with application-specific safety and regulatory provisions. An example of such regulations includes the ISO 10993-1.

Another typical example is the requirements set by the FDA for the 510 (k) submission of medical devices. There are also the ISO 13485 and ISO 9001 standards.

Nonetheless, every country has unique sets of regulations for the production of medical cable assemblies. These regulations are usually much more elaborate when it comes to medical cables for connected devices.

All in all, these regulations help safeguard both the patient’s recovery as well as the working environment wherein the recovery takes place. As such, compliance with these regulatory standards requires validation, testing, and inspection of medical cord assemblies.

Many public health facilities also implement their own in-house medical cable safety and security measures. Examples of such measures are cable tethers.

Cable tethers help prevent patients from taking expensive bedside monitoring leads with them from high-traffic units to other places in the medical facility. They secure the cables by affixing them to other components.

With the cable tethers, monitoring leads can only be removed from a room by authorized staff who have the keys to loosen the security screw and detach the cables. This measure can help hospitals save up on the costs of replacing expensive monitoring leads frequently.

Another frequently used safety measure is the mounting pads. These provide excellent solutions for attaching equipment safely to a wall.

To use them, you need to fix the mounting pad on the targeted area using an adhesive of your choice. Moreover, then, fix the tether eye-loop to the mounting pad together with the security screw.

Still curious about the processes involved in the production of medical cable assemblies? The next chapter delves into medical cable manufacturing.

CHAPTER 6: Medical Cable Manufacture

 As stated earlier, there are stringent regulations in place to ensure that manufacturers always provide you with high quality, wear-resistant products. These standards ensure that manufacturers provide you with highly reliable interconnection solutions for your medical devices.

Regardless of the application which you want to use a medical cable for, there’s a constant need for reliability and durability.

Even if the medical cable’s only flaw is the failure to withstand cleaning chemicals used for sterilization properly, it still exposes users to risks.

Sterilization, which is the process of eradicating biological contaminants such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and so on, It is a key consideration for medical cable manufacturing.

Most medical manufacturers use similar measures for ensuring their medical cord assemblies stand up to sterilization procedures.

Key Requirements for Medical Cord Manufacturing

A Deep Repertoire of Application Knowledge

There are vast interconnection needs required by the various applications for medical cords. Medical cable manufacturers need to be well-informed about the interconnection needs of your medical cable.

They must design your interconnection solutions with wonderful insights.

Material Expertise

A medical cable manufacturer must also be very conversant with the various qualities of medical cable materials. They must be able to provide you with veracious advice on which material is best-suited to your intended use.

A Deep Understanding of Manufacturing Principles

The manufacturer must be conversant with the industry-best methodologies for manufacturing medical cable assemblies. They must also be well-versed in the integration of interconnects and cable bundles.

Cable Bundle Optimization

Manufacturers must be able to assemble cables accurately based on your unique propositions.

In-house Testing

The manufacturers must test cable assemblies consistently at various phases using test tools such as force measurements, medical grade disinfectant washers, TDRs / VNAs, and so on.

Expertise in Hybrid Cable Assemblies

Manufacturers need to be highly knowledgeable in the production of hybrid assemblies that comprise electrical, fluidic, pneumatic and optical components.

Conclusion

 Cleanliness, quality, and handiness are the most crucial qualities of any medical equipment. Regardless of the volume of the assembly produced, these three attributes must be keenly considered.

We leverage our state-of-the-art equipment and our wide breadth of experiences to provide you with excellent interconnection solutions for your medical devices.

We help you simplify the nature of your medical cable assembly, and enhance the user experience of your medical devices. Reach out to us whenever you’re ready to acquire a medical cable, and let’s help you simplify everything.

 
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