Title:
Configurable cassettes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cassette has a top joined with a releasably attached double hinge to a bottom. An interior region can be filled with dental/medical instruments for sterilization and/or storage. The instruments can be supported by pre-arranged supports and retaining members. A practitioner can configure the arrangement in the cassette in accordance with his/her preferences.



Inventors:
Matthis, Marjavis J. (Chicago, IL, US)
Naylor, Jennifer Radovich (Chicago, IL, US)
Miller, Cheryl Marie (Evanston, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/991687
Publication Date:
07/28/2005
Filing Date:
11/18/2004
Assignee:
Hu-Friedy Mfg. Co., Inc. (Chicago, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/438
International Classes:
A61B19/02; A61C19/02; A61L2/26; B65D83/10; (IPC1-7): B65D83/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
POLLICOFF, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARSHALL, GERSTEIN & BORUN LLP (233 SOUTH WACKER DRIVE 6300 WILLIS TOWER, CHICAGO, IL, 60606-6357, US)
Claims:
1. An instrument cassette comprising: a molded body having first and second pivotably attached, molded sections, when the sections are in contact with one another they define a substantially closed interior region, one of the sections defines a plurality of perforations therethrough having a first shape, the other section defines a plurality elongated perforations therethrough having a second, different shape; and a plurality of instrument carrying elements, the elements releasibly and lockingly engage a portion of some of the perforations of at least one of the sections, the elements are usable to establish an alterable instrument support configuration within the body.

2. A cassette as in claim 1 where one of the sections defines a plurality of circular, spaced apart perforations.

3. A cassette as in claim 1 where the sections are pivotably attached by a removable hinge.

4. A cassette as in claim 1 where the members of the plurality of elements are disengageable from the at least one section and re-engageable with the at least one section to establish a second, different, instrument support configuration.

5. A cassette as in claim 4 where at least some of the members of the plurality of elements are different from other members of the plurality of elements.

6. A cassette as in claim 1 which includes a latch that locks the sections to one another.

7. A cassette as in claim 5 which includes a latch that locks the sections to one another.

8. A cassette as in claim 7 where the latch comprises first and second portions which slidably engage one another.

9. A cassette as in claim 7 where at least some of the members of the plurality of elements are formed of metal.

10. A reconfigurable instrument cassette comprising: a perforated body and a releasibly attachable double hinge; a plurality of instrument locating elements, the elements releasibly engage at least portions of the body to locate respective instruments in the body; a releasable latch to retain the body in a closed condition; the locating elements can be positioned in a first, initial, configuration and subsequently, positioned in a different configuration.

11. A cassette as in claim 10 where the body defines first and second different perforations and some members of the plurality slidably engage the first perforations while others slidably engage the second perforations.

12. A cassette as in claim 11 where the body is molded of a selected resin.

13. A cassette as in claim 12 with at least one of the first perforations or the second perforations generally elongated.

14. A cassette as in claim 11 with the first perforations generally symmetrical about a central axis.

15. A cassette as in claim 11 where a selected instrument is locatable by first members of the plurality which engage the first perforations.

16. A cassette as in claim 15 where a different selected instrument is locatable by second members of the plurality which engage the second perforations.

17. A cassette as in claim 16 which includes a plurality of integrally molded support posts.

18. A cassette as in claim 17 where some of the locating elements slidably engage respective ones of the posts.

19. A cassette as in claim 16 where at least some of the first members comprise snap-in rails.

20. A cassette as in claim 19 where the second members comprise snap in retaining members.

21. A cassette as in claim 20 where the snap in rails and snap in retaining members define an instrument storage region therebetween.

22. A cassette as in claim 21 where the body has a body elongated dimension, where the instrument storage region defines an instrument elongated dimension, and where the elongated dimensions are one of parallel to one another, or perpendicular to one another.

23. A cassette as in claim 22 where the elongated dimensions are alterable relative to one another.

24. A cassette as in claim 23 where the body has first and second sections hingedly coupled by the releasibily attachable double hinge.

25. A cassette as in claim 24 where the hinge has two pivoting axis.

26. A cassette as in claim 24 where the hinge is formed of metal.

27. A method of organizing instruments comprising: arranging a plurality of moveable instrument support rails to support a plurality of elongated instruments by constraining each of the rails in a fixed position relative to others of the rails; and arranging a plurality of scissors clamping elements to support at least one scissors by constraining each of the clamping elements in a fixed position relative to others of the elements.

28. A method as in claim 27 which includes arranging a separate instrument compression rail parallel to the instrument support rails to apply instrument retaining forces to retain the instrument therebetween.

29. A method as in claim 28 which includes moving the instrument compression rail from a first, non-retaining, position to a second, retaining position.

30. A method as in claim 29 where the movement is non-linear.

31. A method as in claim 28 where arranging the support rails includes deforming each of the support rails, at least in part, to constrain their positions relative to one another.

32. A method as in claim 28 where arranging the compression rail includes deforming that rail, at least in part, to fixedly locate it parallel to the instrument support rails.

33. A method as in claim 28 which includes mounting the compression rails and the instrument support rails in respective open trays and releasably engaging a double hinge with the trays and folding one tray under the other.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Application No.60/525,274 filed Nov. 26, 2003, entitled “Configurable Cassettes”.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention pertains to instrument sterilizing cassettes. More particularly, the invention pertains to cassettes of a type that are configurable by a dental practitioner in accordance with his/her preferences in arranging sets of instruments for sterilization, and subsequent use.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Dental practitioners are known to have very specific preferences as to the arrangement of instruments to be used in a given dental procedure. Differing procedures call for different sets of instruments and different arrangements of those instruments prior to starting the procedure.

Subsequent to the procedure, the instruments need to be cleaned and sterilized. They also need to be placed into the practitioner's preferred configuration for subsequent use.

It has been known to load sets of instruments into bags for sterilization subsequent to a procedure. The sterile bag of instruments can then be provided to the practitioner at the start of the next procedure. One of the disadvantages of using sterilization bags is that the instruments are loose in the bag and are not arranged as preferred by the practitioner.

Dental instrument cassettes represent another approach to sterilizing, and storing arranged instruments for use by a practitioner. Such cassettes can be formed of sterilizable heat resistant plastic or medical grade stainless steel. Known cassettes often have hinged sections which can be closed upon one another to form an interior region. The instruments can be arranged in the interior region for sterilization and storage until the practitioner is ready to use them for the next procedure. When the cassette is opened, the instruments are presented to the practitioner in his/her preferred arrangement.

Plastic sterilization and storage cassettes have been disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,541,992 entitled “Apparatus for Organizing, Sterilizing and Maintaining Medical/Dental Instruments”, U.S. Pat. No. 5,294,413 entitled “Sterilization and Storage Cassette”, U.S. Pat. No. 5,433,929 entitled “Sterilization and Storage Cassette”. Metal storage cassettes have been disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,854,475 entitled “Instrument Cassette”, U.S. Pat. No. 5,215,726 entitled “Two-Tiered Sterilization and Storage Cassette”, U.S. Pat. No. 5,84,632 entitled “Two-Tiered Sterilization and Storage Cassette”, Des. Patent No. D 441,457 entitled “Sterilization Cassette” and Des. Patent No. D 360,697 entitled “Sterilization Cassette”. The previously enumerated patents are all assigned to the assignee hereof and incorporated by reference herein.

While the known cassettes have been useful and effective for their intended purposes, there continues to be a need for cassettes which enable dental practitioners to more readily arrange instruments in accordance with their preferences. Preferably such cassettes could also be readily reconfigurable in the event that the practitioner wishes to change the instrument set, or, wants to modify the instrument arrangement. It would also be desirable if the cassettes could be configured so as to have a minimal footprint when opened.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is an isometric view of an instrument sterilization and storage cassette in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 1B illustrates one instrument storage configuration usable with the cassette of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 1C illustrates an alternate instrument storage configuration usable with the cassette of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view illustrating additional details of the instrument configuration of FIG. 1B;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged partial view of a portion of the hinge of the cassette of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged partial view of an interior region of the cassette of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the cassette of FIG. 2;

FIGS. 6A and 6B taken together illustrate additional details of the hinge configuration of the cassette of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged partial view of a corner of the cassette of FIG. 6B;

FIG. 8A illustrates a syringe clip usable with the cassette of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 8B illustrates a needle cap holder usable with the cassette of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 8C illustrates a hinged instrument clip usable with the cassette of FIG. 1A;

FIG, 8D illustrates a compression rail usable with the cassette of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 8E illustrates an alternate form of a compression rail usable with the cassette of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 8F is an exemplary base rail assembly usable with the cassette of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 8G illustrates an exemplary base rail anchor usable with the cassette of FIG. 1A; and

FIG. 9 illustrates an alternate instrument configuration in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

While embodiments of this invention can take many different forms, specific embodiments thereof are shown in the drawings and will be described herein in detail with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention, as well as the best mode of practicing same, and is not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiment illustrated.

FIGS. 1A, 1B, 1C illustrate different configurations of a dental instrument storage and sterilization cassette 10. As illustrated in FIG. 1A, the cassette 10 includes a cover, an upper, molded, thermoplastic body member 12a and a base, a lower, molded thermoplastic body member 12b.

The members 12a, b can be molded of any high strength autoclavable thermoplastic. Alternately, one or both of members 12a, b can be formed of metal.

Members 12a, b when closed against one another, as illustrated in FIG. 1A, define and bound an interior instrument storage region.

FIG. 1B illustrates the cassette 10 in an open state and having a first instrument configuration 10-1. The configuration 10-1 presents to the practitioner a plurality of instruments I-1 which could be the same or different depending on the procedure with which the instruments are associated. The instruments I-1 are oriented and arranged in the configuration 10-1 with their elongated axes, perpendicular to an elongated axis of each of the members 12a, b. The instruments I-1 are supported on removable and rearrangeable silicon based rail assemblies, best seen in FIG. 8F. Other instruments can be retained by one or more base rail anchors 18, or clips and holders, best seen in FIGS. 8A, 8B and 8C.

The upper region or cover 12a, FIG. 1B, carries a removably attached compression rail indicated generally at 22. When the cover 12a is closed against the base 12b, the compression rail 22 clamps the instruments I-1 against the respective base rail assemblies 16a, b thereupon blocking any movement of the respective instruments during sterilization, transportation to the location for the procedure, or, during storage between procedures.

The base rail assemblies 16a, b are either directly coupled to or indirectly coupled to the base 12b via base rail anchors 18, by engaging various members of an elongated plurality of openings, such as the representative opening 26 in base 12b. The openings 26 are spaced axially along the base 12b. Shorter openings 26-1 are spaced axially along the base 12b and provide additional locations to which the rails 16a,b and/or base rail anchors 18, clips or instrument holders can be attached.

The cover 12a also includes a plurality of circular perforations such as representative perforation 28. It will be understood that the elongated perforations or openings 26, 26-1 and circular openings 28 not only facilitate locating and attachment of various instrument support elements, they also contribute to and facilitate sterilization of the instruments carried in the cassette 10 when in a closed state, such as in FIG. 1A.

It will also be understood that the cover 12a and base 12b could be identical. In this configuration, the perforations 26, 26-1 and 28 would also be identical.

Clips for hinged instruments, such as clips 32a, 32b can be releasibly attached to selected ones of the openings 28 in accordance with the practitioner's preferences. A hinged instrument, such as scissors I-2 can be carried by the hinged instrument clips such as 32a, b. As will be understood by those of skill in the art, the hinged instrument clips as well as the instruments for rails and rail base anchors can be arranged in a variety of configurations relative to covers 12a and base 12b. These arrangements are preferably based on the preference of the practitioner.

An alternate instrument configuration 10-2 is illustrated in FIG. 1C. In FIG. 1C, a plurality of instruments I-3 is supported on respective base rails, such as 16a′, 16b′, which could be identical to the base rails 16a, b. In the configuration 10-2, the plurality of instruments I-3 extend parallel to the elongated axis of the cassette 10. The instruments I-3 can be retained in place by compression rail 22′ which is retained in circular openings 28. The configuration 10-2 does not include supports 32a, b.

The cassette 10 is also advantageous in that a practitioner can initially use insrument configuration 10-1 and subsequently change the same in accordance with his/her preferences. Similarly, the hinged instruments such as instrument I-2 can be added or deleted from the instrument set.

The cover 12a and base 12b can be latched together with a pair of elongated latches 38a, b. The latches 38a, b are preferably carried on cover 12a. They slidably engage respective latching elements 40a, b on the base 12b when the cover 12a is closed against the base 12b. Other latch configurations come within the spirit and scope of the invention, for example the latches could be carried on the base 12b.

Those of skill will understand that instrument configurations 10-1, -2 are exemplary only. Other configurations come within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of cassette 10 with instrument configuration 10-1. As best seen in FIG. 2, the top 12a, and base 12b are pivotally joined by a removably attachable double hinge indicated generally at 44. The hinge 44 could be formed, preferably, of stainless steel. Alternately, it could be formed of cured resin.

The hinge 44 has two spaced apart parallel pivoting axis 44a, b. The two axis are joined by an intervening, elongated rigid member 46a. Rigid elongated member members 46b and 46c of hinge 44, rotate relative to the member 46a about the axis 44a, b. The members 46b,c slidably and removably engage cover 12a and base 12b at slots 12-1,-2.

FIG. 3 illustrates a preferred engagement structure of hinge 44. It will be understood that other engagement structures comes within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Examples include snap-lock arrangements, friction fit or fasteners.

The members 46b,c extend through slots such as slots 12-1, -2, respectively formed in cover 12a and base 12b. As the members 46b, c slide into the respective slots, 12-1, -2, perforations therein, such as perforations 48a, 48b slidably receive spring biased ends 50a and 50b. The ends 50a, b are carried within members 50-1 and 50-2 and releasibly lock the hinge 44 to cover 12a and base 12b.

FIG. 4, an enlarged section of a portion of the base 12b of FIG. 2, illustrates details of the base rails, such as base rails 16a,b or 16a′, b′. The respective rails can be attached to base rail anchors. Alternately, they can be directly attached to the base member 12b with a friction or snap fit.

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the cover 12a.

FIGS. 6A, 6B illustrate beneficial and advantageous aspects of the cassette 10. The cover 12a folds completely under the base 12b as a result of the structure of the double hinge 44. As illustrated in FIG. 6A, 6B, as a result, the cassette 10 exhibits only a single tray footprint, thus taking up less valuable space when in use.

FIG. 7, an enlarged, corner, fragmentary view of base 12b, illustrates the use and installation of an accessory clip, such as clip 54a. Such clips could be formed of metal, stainless steel, for example, or resin. Clip 54a is slidably mounted on molded post 54b which extends from base 12b.

A needle cap holder 56a is slidably mounted on another molded post 56b. The clips 54a and needle cap holder 56a are exemplary only. Neither their configuration nor their characteristics are limitations of the present invention. Other clips come within the spirit and scope of the invention.

FIGS. 8A-8G illustrate various types of exemplary instrument support/restraining members usable with the cassette 10. FIG. 8A illustrates details of syringe clip 54a. FIG. 8B illustrates details of needle cap holder 56a. FIG. 8C illustrates details of the hinged instrument clip 32i. FIGS. 8D, 8E illustrate two different forms of compression rails 22-1, -2. Both types of compression rails can be releasibly attached to cover 12a.

FIG. 8F illustrates an exemplary rail assembly 16i. FIG. 8G illustrates a base rail anchor, such as anchor 18.

FIG. 9 is an exploded view of another instrument configuration 10-3. The configuration 10-3 uses the cover and base 12a, b, discussed previously, along with the hinge 44. However, instrument configuration 10-3 is based on incorporating one or more trays such as 66a,b,c within the region formed by the cover and base 12a, b.

For example, and without limitation, instruments can be stored in a deep tray 66a or one of two shallow trays 66b, 66c. The trays can be retained by resin tie downs 68 which slidably engage posts, such as post 70 to clamp the respective trays to the base 12b.

In addition to the trays, hinged instrument clips, such as the clips 32i discussed previously, can be slidably attached to the cover 12a for purposes of carrying one or more hinged instruments as would be understood by those of skill in the art. It will be understood that other tray based instrument storage arrangements come within the spirit and scope of the present invention. It will also be understood that all elements or components usable in the cassette 10 could be formed of resin or metal.

From the foregoing, it will be observed that numerous variations and modifications may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the specific apparatus illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred. It is, of course, intended to cover by the appended claims all such modifications as fall within the scope of the claims.