Design Improvements in Laparoscopic System Optimize Unit for OR Use

KMC Systems lent its manufacturing and engineering expertise to the improvement of a minimally invasive system
The AirSeal DPS 1000 benefited from KMC Systems’ engineering input to reduce the unit’s size.

Recognizing the industry’s desire for advanced laparoscopic tools, SurgiQuest Inc. (Orange, CT) developed the AirSeal DPS 1000 bladeless optical trocar and cannula system. The patented system employs a single trocar incision in contrast to the three or four trocars used in traditional laparoscopic surgery. It also provides unobstructed access to the abdominal cavity without losing intra-abdominal pressure, thereby enabling surgeons to place a scope and multiple laparoscopic devices through a single port.

As a result of these features, the device allows for better visibility, greater control, and easier access to the abdominal cavity, according to SurgiQuest. In turn, the product facilitates a speedy recovery, coupled with the promise of less pain and better cosmesis resulting from the use of a single incision.  

Creating such a complex minimally invasive system required maximum effort, however. SurgiQuest developed the product to the breadboard stage before seeking out a contract manufacturer. Together, KMC Systems (Merrimack, NH), a provider of engineering and manufacturing services, and SurgiQuest were able to come up with creative solutions to challenges that arose during development of the DPS 1000 system—specifically a needed reduction in the unit’s noise and size.

Low noise was crucial to the success of the product, which is designed for use in the operating room (OR) environment. “The noise specifications for the DPS 1000 system were particularly challenging,” recalls Dan Donovan, SurgiQuest senior director of operations. “One of the systems’ major components is a pump used to recirculate gas and create the required operating pressures; pumps of this type are inherently noisy. In addition, increased system performance features were required after initial marketing feedback required a more-efficient recirculation system.”

Because the pump was a necessary component and could therefore not be eliminated from the design, the companies incorporated noise dampening and natural frequency detuning techniques to reduce noise. “Vibration-isolation mounting methods were used to isolate the frequency transmission to the instrument case and structural elements. The utilization of different gas-flow geometries and volumes damped and detuned airflow-induced noise,” explains Spencer Lovette, program manager, KMC Systems. “Pumps of this type also generate a fair amount of heat, so a balance of noise dampening material types and thicknesses—which act as an unwanted thermal insulator—with creative air cooling paths were required to achieve the specification levels.”

In addition to minimizing noise and vibration, the companies also aimed to reduce the size of the system. They hoped to facilitate user acceptance of the unit by designing a compact system that could help to cut clutter and could fit in designated instrument racks in the OR suite. To do so, the companies applied creative packaging and engineering techniques to maximize internal space. Solutions such as replacing two small pumps with one larger one, using more-compact plumbing between components, and employing a custom manifold contributed to the reduction of the unit’s size, according to Lovette.

Throughout development, engineers at KMC Systems and the project management and technical staff at SurgiQuest maintained close contact and met frequently to test the device and discuss challenges, solutions, and next steps. “The resolution of the initial size and noise challenges has allowed SurgiQuest to distribute the DPS 1000 system to the market with broad acceptance and success,” Donovan concludes.