One of the most versatile inventions in the world, wire can be used for many different applications in the healthcare industry. From orthodontics to tissue engineering, take a look at 6 of the most innovative uses for wire.
1. Kirschner Wires
If you’ve ever fractured a bone, you might have come across Kirschner wires before, and they’re commonly referred to as pins.
They’re used to hold broken bones in the correct placement during the healing process, and are often removed in surgery after the fracture is healed. They can also be used to hold several bone fragments in place during the healing process, and are usually used as a temporary measure until more permanent solutions like plates and screws can be added later.
Kirshner wires can also be used with traction to lengthen or realign bones correctly or correct growth deformities.
2. Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontic archwire is one of the most common tools used in Orthodontia to help straighten teeth, and can also be used for a retentive purpose to prevent the migration of teeth out of line.
It is commonly manufactured from several alloys including stainless steel, nickel-titanium, and beta-titanium. Archwire is most commonly seen in the use of “train track braces”, with brackets to help adjust teeth into the correct positions.
Some medical machinery involved in practices like electrocardiography, electromyography and deep brain stimulation require wires with electrode tips. These electrodes are used to connect the patient to the machine for treatment.
Additionally, for many patients with Parkinson’s Disease, DBS (deep brain stimulation) can provide some relief from their symptoms. By inserting a pacemaker-like device into the brain with an extension wire, DBS can help to provide relief from symptoms. The electrodes are implanted into the patient’s brain to provide electrical impulses that can help to control abnormal impulses from the brain.
For tools like a cochlear implant, wires are used to help deaf or hard of hearing patients hear by providing a representation of sounds from their environment. A multi-electrode wire array is inserted into the inner ear, allowing sound to bypass any damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
4. Sutures and Tissue Engineering
If you’ve ever needed an operation, or medical intervention to repair a deep cut, you’ll know what a suture looks like.
They are commonly made with surgical steel and can be used to close anatomical structures like the sternum after heart surgery. Companies like Ormiston Wire manufacture high quality suture wire using implant grade stainless steel.
Alternatively, steel staples can also be used to close wounds instead of traditional sutures, and for situations that require select surgeries like pelvic reconstruction, surgeons use wire mesh made from metals like titanium, stainless steel and a cobalt-chromium alloy.
5. Keyhole and Precision Surgery
For the diagnosis or treatment of some diseases, an endoscopy procedure is needed to inspect a particular area inside the body. The retrieval devices will often contain surgery grade wire for precise manipulation inside the body cavity.
This can also be applied to the wire mesh used for the manufacturing of stents for heart surgery. The mesh is commonly made from stainless steel, platinum-chromium or cobalt-chromium, with a polymer coating to prevent scar tissue build-up.
Additionally, for delicate surgery involving smaller organs like the eyes, wire is used to ensure precision and to perform more intricate procedures like eyelid reconstruction and orbital implants. In addition, wire guided probes can be used to create or maintain tear drainage in the eye.
6. Tracheostomy Tubes
Tracheostomy tubes are used to keep the airway open during some procedures, and can be used to help a patient breathe during a ventilation process. Many parts of the tracheostomy tube contain wire components. These include the inner cannula, which can contain a wire loop that makes it easier to pull apart for cleaning or replacement.
Additionally, the cuff inflation system of the tube is usually connected with a small wire allowing a medical professional to loosen or tighten as necessary. The tube ties are also often made of wire, and to keep the tube in place around the patient’s neck, and the inside of the tube contains a wire that keeps the tube open if it is bent.
Do you know of any more uses for wire in the healthcare industry? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!