Heavy engineering technology plays a key role in medical monitoring

Vacuum pressure impregnation helps blood gas monitoring of intensive care patients

More at home producing large vacuum process plant for the impregnation of electric motors and transformers, Millitorr, a division of Elantic Engineering, has applied the same technology, only on a smaller scale, for the medical sector. It is supplying a semi-automated vacuum pressure impregnation plant for the manufacture of continuous blood gas monitoring systems.

The measurement of blood gases and other variables provides medical professionals with vital information on key indicators, especially for premature infants and intensive care patients. Until recently, such testing provided only a snapshot of blood parameters and had detrimental effects in terms of loss of precious blood volume for samples, however small.

Recognising the advantages of real time blood analysis, without the need for physical sampling, Diametrics Medical has developed a range of blood monitoring systems.

The system works by inserting a catheter into the patient’s blood stream. The catheter consists of a number of optic fibres and a thermocouple. The optic fibres are radially drilled with numerous holes, which in turn are vacuum impregnated with a dye, responsive to the specific parameter being monitored. Changes to the colour of the dye are relayed to the monitoring station, where the data are analysed and displayed on a continuous real time basis.

Millitorr’s involvement was to develop a vacuum process system to allow impregnation of the dye into the holes in the fibre optic strands. The answer comprised two stainless steel chambers, each about 8in diameter and 8in deep. The pre-drilled fibre optic strands are placed in one of the chambers, which is then evacuated to remove all traces of air and moisture. Dye, from the second chamber, is then transferred into the first chamber, impregnating the strands. Surplus dye is returned to the second chamber.

Millitorr Division Tel: 0161 761 6212