10 Types of Medical Devices That Rely on Compressors
Compressors have found use cases in the oil & gas industry and the same can be said about the medical, pharmaceutical, and dental industry. What most people don’t know is just how common compressors are in medical devices.
Different types of medical devices rely heavily on compressors for their functionality.
These machines ensure that the breathable air around a patient is clean, free from dust, moisture, and oil.
As such, they target the industry’s goal for cleanliness and precision.
Whether it is a medical device designed to monitor the patient’s health, diagnose, analyze or sterile, then there is a compressed air system that can be employed in each case.
What are Compressors?
Compressors are mechanical devices whose mode of operation increases the pressure in gas while reducing its volume simultaneously.
Their application in the medical & dental industry can promote the patient’s health because they strive to provide clean and oil-free air even in a dirty and grimy environment.
The resultant medical-grade air is free from toxic or flammable contaminants; however, these devices are only available in medical devices that are air driven.
They can also be used to sterilize tools used for dental operation and to preserve drugs during production and packaging. Compressors are commonly found in these medical facilities:
- Surgical centers
That being the case, oil-free compressors has found more application in this sector of the industry.
What are Oil-free Compressors?
As the term implies, oil-free compressors ensure that the air is 100 percent free from oil and other contaminants that could be detrimental to the patient’s health.
The air produced meets the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) air purity standards and it aims to achieve a Class 0 certification.
Due to this goal, the use of this type of compressor ensures that an extra in-line oil filtration system is not required.
The latter would be the case of an oil-lubricated compressor which may be more expensive to manage and maintain.
There is also the cost of compressed air treatment and oil maintenance to think about, and either of these may be required several times a year.
Features of Oil-Free Compressors
- Noise level is low
- Low energy consumption
- Installation is inexpensive
- Low operating temperatures
- Excludes flammable and toxic contaminants in medical air
Types of Medical Devices That Rely on Oil-free Compressors
There are different types of medical devices that rely on oil-free compressors and these are pieces of equipment that are in the pharmaceutical and dental industries.
Accordingly, the tools that employ these mechanical devices are:
- Surgical Instruments
- Blood Pressure Monitors
- Blood Analyzers
- Oxygen Concentrators
- Nitrogen Generators
- Dental Air Compressors
- Bath Seats
- Chair Lifts
1. Surgical Instruments:
Tools used for drilling, puncturing, or dissecting all rely on compressed air in order to remove excess air from them.
Although they are usually cleansed with mechanical washers, excess moisture can still tamper with their ability to dry effectively.
Some examples of these instruments that use compressed air are:
- Laparoscopic suction catheter
2. Blood Pressure Monitors:
Compressors in these medical devices keep track of a person’s vital signs accurately and consistently in order to eliminate the potential for room error.
Staff monitor these vital signs every 15 to 30 minutes:
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
- Heart rate
- Respiration rate
In the case of the patient’s blood pressure, the cuff at the start of each measurement is inflated by the compressor.
Besides, the compressor needs to deliver an air flow of 25 CFM (cubic feet per minute) and up to 10 PSI (Pound-force per square inch) pressure.
3. Blood Analyzers:
Blood chemistry analyzers such as Hematology analyzers are computerized machines that enable medical professionals to carry out an analysis of the patient’s blood for information.
Within blood analyzer, the data can pertain to the number of:
Red and white blood cells
- Hematocrit levels
- Blood platelets in the blood sample
When that is done, treatment can then be carried out swiftly and accurately since the root cause of a disease can be ascertained and monitored.
Compressors find their application in these machines since the air must move the instrumentation and vials during the analysis process.
A nebulizer is an instrument that enables drugs that have been mystified from liquid to be inhaled into the furthest parts of the lungs, which is believed to have the maximum benefit.
This equipment features a compressor, nebulizer chamber, and a mouthpiece or face mask.
The compressor pumps an air stream through the liquid medication which enables it to move through the chamber valves to the mouthpiece.
Therefore, it’s common in cases where patients suffering from respiratory problems such as cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma need to inhale their medication.
Commonly used nebulizers include:
- Ultrasonic nebulizers also called aerosonic nebulizers
- Compressor nebulizers also called piston nebulizers
5. Oxygen Concentrators:
Patients with lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic bronchitis typically use oxygen concentrators.
These machines take advantage of a compressor to boost ambient oxygen of 21% to 85 or 90%.
The processes involved in the separation of oxygen from nitrogen are:
- The machine’s concentrator draws air from the outside
- Air is compressed and cooled to prevent overheating
- Oxygen is transported through the molecular sieve while zeolite minerals trap nitrogen
- Oxygen is then delivered to the patient’s nasal tubing or face mask
6. Nitrogen Generators:
These are systems that work in the reverse by using the Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) principle to transform compressed air into dry nitrogen gas.
Usually, atmospheric air is made up of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, and as such, a separation of the air may be required in order to produce nitrogen gas for medical uses.
The nitrogen at purity levels between 99% to 99.95% then goes to single and multiple-based instruments.
In the pharmaceutical industry, for instance, nitrogen can be used for product packaging and preventing an explosion in activities where fine dispersed materials are used.
7. Respirators (Ventilators):
Medical respirators or ventilators artificially supply air in and out of the lungs of a patient.
Because of this, they must supply 100 percent pure air with the right amount of pressure to patients and this keeps them comfortable.
Alternatively, the patient could be undergoing an electrocautery or laser procedure which calls for a surgical mask.
That aside, respirators can also be used in areas where there are extreme particles in the air in order to protect a person with respiratory problems.
A respirator usually consists of:
- Set of valves and tubes
- Air and oxygen supplies
- Compressible air reservoir
- A disposable or reusable patient circuit
8. Dental Air Compressors:
These medical devices are common during dental procedures due to their ability to compress, cleanse, dry, and store air.
The air can then power the:
- Hand-piece cleaners
- Certain functions of dental treatment centers
One more application of compressors in this aspect is in dental carts which place a range of tools that a dentist will need during a dental routine.
The carts have compressed air as well as a vacuum which helps to draw the air required from stationary systems mounted in the basement.
9. Bath Seats:
Bath seats do not only provide comfort and safety but the ease in getting in and out of tubs.
This makes it extremely easy for those who have difficulty in walking or are handicapped.
The lightweight plastic seat, in this case, makes use of compressed air which allows it to be lifted and dropped with the use of inflated bellows.
10. Chair Lifts:
Chair lifts also have compressed air in them and that being so, it enables a patient to stand up with little or no effort and assistance from someone.
When they stand, the chair gently lifts forward and when they sit, the chair gently pushes backward.
The different types of medical devices outlined above depend greatly on compressors to boost their level of functionality.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities have come to rely on them to supply clean and dry air to their patients.
Moreover, the world may be growing advanced and digitized, but there are several instances where mechanical devices of this nature are required to improve the patient’s health while also ensuring that harm is not caused in the long run.
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