GE Plastics sees ways for its high-performance resins to replace metal on a variety of medical devices.
A movement to plastics from metal is gaining traction, said Clare Frissora, health-care market director with the Pittsfield, Mass., company.
One example is a slim, impact-resistant plastic device that attaches bones to maintain stabilization during healing. The product weighs less than a metal rod and screws and, according to GE, offers the patient more comfort and mobility. Unlike a metal device, the product does not impede X-rays.
GE has increased its portfolio of health-care products by about 20 percent in the past year. New capabilities involve autoclave curing, materials for small parts and other offerings for long, complicated flow lines.
The company exhibited a range of products at Medical Design & Manufacturing West, held Jan. 31-Feb. 2 in Anaheim. Here are details on two of the products:
* A metal replacement, the ClearView MV atrial depressor from Estech Inc. of San Ramon, Calif.
The depressor is molded with GE's blood-compatible Lexan HPM 1914 polycarbonate, which came onto the market in August. Estech said it chose the material over traditional PCs.
In the past, the device was made of stainless steel. It needed to be assembled, disassembled and cleaned, and sometimes parts were lost, Frissora said. The one-piece, single-use Lexan depressor avoids those problems.
The depressor's paddle and malleable shaft allow a surgeon to retract the posterior atrial wall, exposing the mitral valve.
* In another typically metal application, the disposable all-in-one Tisshield forceps companion from Dexteus Inc. of Irvine, Calif., was launched in late 2005.
The device attaches to surgical forceps, safely retracts tissues and allows users to avoid injury from needle sticks during suturing. The product must with- stand electrothermal heat. Standard DeBakey and Tissue-brand forceps can be mounted to the device, according to GE Plastics.
The complex device is made of GE's Lexan HPS2 PC resin and takes advantage of the polymer's clarity, rigidity, gamma-sterilization stability and biocompatibility.