United States Patent 3734084

A mechanical tongue depressor has a laterally offset clamp which enables it to be readily clamped to any portion of the vertical post of a conventional mouth speculum wherein the vertical post extends between the upper and lower jaws of the mouth alongside the mouth cavity. Interchangeable depressor blades of different sizes can be quickly attached to and detached from the clamp portion to adapt the depressor for use with animals of different sizes.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
International Classes:
A61B1/24; A61B13/00; (IPC1-7): A61B1/24
Field of Search:
32/40 128
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3154069Grooved tongue depressorOctober 1964Ring
3047061Screen frame fixtureJuly 1962Wilcox et al.
2879962Holding bracketMarch 1959Biskup
2669156Image slide projector apparatusFebruary 1954Fitz Gerald
1374984RetractorApril 1921Cameron
1193782N/AAugust 1916Henderson

Primary Examiner:
Laudenslager, Lucie H.
I claim

1. Tongue depressor apparatus in which the improvement comprises:

2. Apparatus according to claim 1 including interlocking means for removably attaching said blade to said clamping portion.

3. Apparatus according to claim 2 wherein said interlocking means comprises cooperating locking pin and slot means on said clamping and offset portions.

4. Apparatus according to claim 2 wherein said interlocking means includes a pivot pin on one of said two aforementioned portions and a pin-receiving opening on the other said portion, a locking pin with an enlarged head on one of said portions and a locking pin-receiving slot on the other said portion, said pins and their respective opening and slot being arranged to lock said blade to said clamping portion with the aid of normal tongue pressure applied against the underside of said blade.

5. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said clamping portion defines a slot open at one end for receiving said post, said clamping means including gate means pivoted to said clamping portion for pivoting movement from an open position permitting said post to enter said slot to a closed position across the open end of said slot to retain said post within said slot.

6. Apparatus according to claim 5 wherein said slot is defined by at least one resilient sidewall portion and said gate means includes screw takeup means operable to force said resilient sidewall portion against said post when said gate means is closed.

7. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said blade includes a central groove extending throughout the length of a tongue-engaging surface portion thereof for receiving an endotracheal tube.

8. A tongue depressor in combination with a mouth speculum of the type having a spreader post extending alongside the mouth cavity between upper and lower jaws, said depressor comprising:

9. Apparatus according to claim 8 wherein said second leg portion includes interlocking means for removably securing said blade to said clamping portion.

10. Apparatus according to claim 8 wherein said clamping portion includes a generally rectangular clamping block defining an open-ended slot for receiving said spreader post, said slot being bounded by a laterally resilient wall and an opposite rigid wall, said rigid wall terminating at a notched end adjacent the open end of said slot, said notched end mounting a pivot block for pivotal movement within said notched end, said thin wall also including a notched distal end opposite the notched end of said rigid wall, said pivot block including a threaded opening receiving a threaded end portion of said clamping means, said clamping means comprising a gate member adapted to swing on said pivot block from an open position to a closed position across the open end of said slot and within the notch of said resilient wall, said gate being operable when closed to clamp said resilient wall against the spreader post.

Applicant grants the United States Government a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to use this invention for Governmental purposes with power to grant licenses to others for Government purposes.


1. field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a tongue depressor adapted for attachment to a mouth speculum for facilitating mouth and throat examination, treatment and surgery.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Although many different types of tongue depressors have been suggested heretofore, most have been designed for use either apart from a mouth speculum or gag, or else as an integral, special part of a specific type of speculum or gag having no general applicability to other types of specula or gags.

Prior tongue depressor-speculum combinations have been complex affairs, usually having so many structural members and appurtenances as to limit access and vision into the mouth and throat.

In most prior speculum-depressor appliances, the speculum has required a lateral structural member extending from opposite side members across the lower portion of the jaw for attaching the depressor, with an additional structural portion extending downwardly from a central part of the lateral member and being supported against the chin for stability. In addition to being cumbersome and uncomfortable and limiting visibility and access, speculum-depressors of this type actually prevent the tongue from extending outwardly of the mouth, which in some instances may be necessary or desirable.

There are no tongue depressors known which are adaptable for general use with different types of specula, and no depressors available capable of being attached to specula having no lateral member extending across the lower jaw. Specifically no existing depressors can be attached to specula of the type used in examining and treating animals other than human beings.


In accordance with the present invention the deficiencies of the prior art are overcome by providing a mechanical tongue depressor especially suitable for use with animals other than human beings.

The tongue depressor of the invention includes a universal-type clamping portion adaptable for attachment to any mouth speculum having an upright spreader post portion offset laterally from the mouth cavity and extending alongside the mouth for holding the upper and lower jaws apart.

The clamp is laterally offset from the depressor blade and can be attached directly to the upright post of the speculum and adjusted to any desired position along such post. The clamp is designed to prevent rotation of the blade with respect to the post.

The depressor blade has a laterally extending portion adapted for quick connection to the clamping portion whereby interchangeable blades of different sizes for different-sized animals can be used with the same clamping portion. The blade itself is the only portion of the depressor that extends into the mouth cavity, thereby providing optimum vision and access to the cavity and throat region.

The lower tongue-engaging surface of the blade is provided with a longitudinal groove along which an endotracheal tube can pass to the trachea without obstructing vision or access.

Primary objects of the invention are to provide:

1. a tongue depressor adaptable for use with many different types of mouth specula;

2. a tongue depressor especially suitable for use with animals of different sizes and types;

3. a tongue depressor having interchangeable blades of different sizes;

4. a tongue depressor having a universal-type clamp adapting it for use with different types of mouth specula;

5. a tongue depressor providing optimum visibility and access into the mouth and throat regions;

6. a tongue depressor of simplified and trouble-free design.


The foregoing and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawing wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a tongue depressor attached to a typical mouth speculum, illustrating its use on a small dog;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the under portions of the depressor of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a view partly in section taken along the line 3--3 of FIG. 2; and

FIG. 4 is a view partly in section taken along the line 4--4 of FIG. 2.


General Arrangement

With reference to the drawing, FIG. 1 shows the tongue depressor 1 attached to the upright, offset post portion 3 of a conventional mouth speculum 5 used in small animal surgery to spread the upper and lower jaws of a small animal, such as the dog 6. The speculum typically includes an upper plate 7 adjacent the upper end of the somewhat flexible post 3 and a lower plate 8 adjacent the lower end of the post. The outer ends of such plates extend inwardly of the mouth opening and include openings 9 for receiving the dog's opposed canine teeth. A coil spring 10 extends about post 3 between the upper and lower plates to force the plates apart and thus maintain the dog's upper and lower jaws spread apart for access into the mouth and throat.

The tongue depressor includes a blade 12 removably attached to a clamping portion 14. Referring to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4, clamping portion 14 mounts a clamping means or gate means 16 in the form of a thumb screw for releasably and adjustably clamping the entire depressor assembly to speculum post 3 at any desired position along the length of the latter.

Clamping Portion

Clamping portion 14 is generally rectangular in shape and includes a slot 18 extending inwardly from one end thereof for receiving speculum post 3. Slot 18 is defined on one side by a thin-walled resilient spring steel portion 20 and on the opposite side by a thicker rigid walled portion 22 of the clamping block. Thin wall 20 has a notch 24 formed in its outer end for receiving a groove portion 32 of thumb screw 16 when it is closed across slot 18 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. The corresponding end portion of the thicker wall 22 is also notched or indented at 26. Thumb screw 16 has a threaded end 28 which screws into a threaded opening of a pivot block 30 pivotally mounted within indented end 26 of wall 22. Thus the thumb screw can be swung on the pivot block from its open position as shown in dashed lines in FIG. 2 to its closed, clamping position as shown in full lines in FIG. 2 wherein thumb screw groove 32 resides in notch 24 to close the end of slot 18.

A land portion 34 of the thumb screw resides within slot 18 when the slot is closed, thereby preventing post 3 of the speculum from being detached from clamp body 14 of the depressor. Land portion 34 is sized so that when the thumb screw is seated within notch 24, land 34 engages post 3. When thereafter thumb screw 16 is screwed further into pivot block 30, the resilient thin-walled portion 20 of the clamping block 14 exerts clamping pressure against post 3 to prevent rotation and sliding movement of clamp body 14 relative to the post. Clamp body 14 includes a narrow slit or recess 35 where it joins an intermediate portion of resilient wall 20 to provide such wall with even more resilience than it would otherwise have. An enlarged, knurled handle portion 36 of thumb screw 16 facilitates rotation of the thumb screw.

Depressor Blade

Depressor blade 12 includes an elongate tongue-engaging portion 40 having a rounded inner end 41 adapted to extend inwardly of the mouth cavity and an outer end 42. The lower tongue-engaging surface of blade portion 40 includes a central groove 43 extending lengthwise from end-to-end thereof for receiving an endotracheal tube 44 when the latter is needed, as shown in FIG. 1.

Blade 12 also includes a lateral offset portion 46 projecting laterally from adjacent the outer end of tongue-engaging blade portion 40 toward clamp body 14.

Referring particularly to FIG. 4, lateral offset 46 is generally angular in shape and includes a first leg 48 extending from tongue-engaging portion 40 in approximately the same plane as the blade portion 40, and a second leg 50 extending generally normal to first leg 48 and into engagement with a side of clamping block 14. Leg 50 terminates at a right-angle bend to form a small lip 52 which engages a lower surface of clamping block 14.

Blade and Clamp Interlock

Clamping block 14 and upright leg 50 of the offset blade portion 46 are provided with interlocking means for securing blades 12 firmly to the clamping block and for enabling quick replacement of such blade with another interchangeable blade (not shown) of a different size when needed. With such means the tongue depressor assembly is adaptable for use with different-sized animals.

With reference particularly to FIG. 3, the interlocking means includes a swivel pin 54 and a laterally adjacent locking pin 56 with an enlarged head 57 projecting from the blade-engaging side of clamp body 14. Leg 50 of blade offset 46 includes a swivel pin opening 55 of a size for just receiving pin 54. Leg 50 also includes a locking slot 58 having an enlarged end 59 large enough to receive enlarged head 57 of locking pin 56. Slot 58 tapers from its large end 59 to a small end 60 having a smaller radius of curvature than the radius of head 57.

With the foregoing arrangement, a blade 12 can be quickly interlocked with clamping block 14 simply by inserting pin 54 through swivel pin hole 55 and pin head 57 through the enlarged end 59 of slot 58 and then pivoting the blade to swing the locking pin 56 toward the small end of the slot 58, thereby locking the blade to the clamping block. In this position, lip 52 of the blade is flush with the bottom surface of clamping block 14, and tongue pressure tends to maintain locking pin 56 at the small end of locking slot 58. However, by removing the tongue depressor from the mouth of the animal, the blade can be quickly interchanged with another one of a different size if desired.

Operation and Use

If it is necessary to adjust the position of the depressor along the length of the post 3 of the speculum, the thumb screw can be loosened slightly. This enables sliding movement of the clamping block along speculum post 3 until the desired adjustment is obtained. Thereafter the thumb screw is again tightened to clamp clamping block 14 to the post.

From the foregoing it will be apparent that a tongue depressor is provided that may be quickly and easily clamped to and adjusted along the length of the speculum post.

Moreover, interchangeable blades may be readily attached to and detached from the clamping block so that the depressor can be used with animals of different sizes and species.

The depressor can be constructed of any suitable material, such as stainless steel.

Although the tongue depressor of the invention is especially suitable for use with a mouth speculum of the type illustrated, it will be appreciated that the depressor, with its universal-type clamping means, is adaptable for use with any mouth speculum having an offset upright post portion extending alongside the mouth opening. In practice it has been found that the tongue depressor works equally well regardless of the position of the animal.

Having illustrated and described what is now a preferred form of my invention, it should be apparent to those skilled in the art that the same permits of modification in arrangement and detail. I claim as my invention all such modifications as come within the true spirit and scope of the following claims.