Photo courtesy of Ewellix

As surgery and other medical procedures rapidly grow and advance, motion control technologies have become more important. These solutions help improve work efficiecy, provide more patient comfort, and reduce stress on medical professionals.

“We are seeing an increasing need for automation to increase process flow,” says Tarek Bugaighis, Ewellix president for North America. “If we look at surgical applications with new access requirements, it certainly is leading to new design decisions on how to achieve access compliance.”

Linear actuators – key automation solutions – are becoming more common in the operating room. Whether a physician is using a surgical chair during an operation, or if they need to transfer a patient to the operating table, linear actuators provide the smooth movement and necessary precision of movement.

Play-free actuator

Current surgical demands have led to a new level of requirements, often mandating an actuator that eliminates play. To meet these needs, linear motion and actuation solutions supplier Ewellix designed the CAMT actuator to assist with surgical table and chair movements. The actuator has virtually zero play throughout the unit’s lifetime, offering a higher level of patient comfort. CAMT moves smoothly in all directions due to the play-free/backlash-free feature. Consequently, the CAMT actuators maintain smooth movement throughout any procedure.

“That’s why we believe the CAMT is unique in the market,” says Medical Sales Manager Neil Hesselsweet. “The ability to give everyone more confidence, due to play-free equipment. This ties into the imaging aspect as well; now you don’t need to move a patient since the patient is on a stable apparatus which supports image quality. Physicians can take an X-ray: the table is stable enough, the patient is stable enough, and you can multitask off one position.”

This is essential for specialized surgeries, such as neuro and spinal. Any play in these surgeries is unacceptable, especially when changing actuator directions.

The actuator is self-locking, so there is no need for a separate locking mechanism for safety. Replacing hydraulic systems with electromechanic systems allows for a cleaner environment and lets surgeons accurately reproduce the positioning. The CAMT actuator is maintenance-free, and because it’s electromechanical, has no hydraulic oil that can leak.

Equipment performance

In a lengthy operation, a surgeon may experience some fatigue. Positioning a patient in a comfortable spot allows the physician to work more securely.

The CAMT actuator can be used for lateral roll, such as side-to-side movement of the table; and it can be used in longitudinal tilt. Other applications include adjustable back or footrest mechanisms, movements typically required in medical devices. Physicians can also use Ewellix control systems that offer plug-and-play, or they can incorporate these actuators into their own control systems.

In imaging equipment, actuators allow physicians to position patients more precisely. Doctors can put patients in exactly the same position they were in before to compare an older scan with a new scan.

Intelligent feedback

Medical professionals must be able to position their patients with accuracy and repeatability, which they can achieve by using Ewellix control boxes that offer four memory positions and accommodate up to four operating devices.

“The control boxes also help improve the working environment, when people of different heights are using the same device,” Hesselsweet says. “They can save their preferred position and come right back to it later. This capability makes their jobs easier to do because the device can be located in the best ergonomic position.”

The actuators contain a dual Hall-encoder system that provides accurate feedback when extending or retracting the actuators.

Compared to single Hall systems, which lose pulses with each movement, the Ewellix dual Hall systems uses pulse width modulation (PWM) to reduce the need to rehome the system. Controls maintain accurate positioning by monitoring the encoder pulses and adjusting the power to each actuator.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can incorporate Ewellix actuation systems into their own systems by using a standard control box with an RS232 communication port. If there is a need to access the control box logic, Ewellix can provide guidance in interpreting the signals, or OEMs can acquire positioning information to use with their own software.

Physicians can make adjustments using their own power supply and software. OEMs who prefer this option already have power and logic for other non-linear components, such as imaging systems.