Title:
Suture retainer with suture guide and method of using a suture retainer with a suture guide
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The suture retainer according to one aspect of the invention has a retainer body, a suture attachment mechanism (such as a pair of teeth) adapted to hold a suture strand at an attachment point and a suture guide mechanism adapted to maintain an angle between the suture strand and the suture attachment mechanism. Another aspect of the invention provides a method of securing a suture in a suture retainer, including the following steps: providing a suture retainer comprising a retainer body and a suture attachment mechanism; contacting a suture strand with a suture guide to maintain an angle between the suture strand and the suture attachment mechanism; and attaching the suture strand to the retainer body at the suture attachment mechanism. Yet another aspect of the invention provides a suturing method including the steps of: attaching a first end of a suture strand to a suture retainer; contacting a tissue contact portion of the suture strand with tissue to be sutured, the tissue contact portion being disposed between the first end of the suture strand and a second end of the suture strand; contacting the second end of the suture strand with a suture guide to maintain an angle between the suture strand and one of suture attachment mechanisms; and attaching the second end of the suture strand to the suture retainer at a suture attachment point.



Inventors:
James, Jervis E. (Atherton, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/061320
Publication Date:
08/17/2006
Filing Date:
02/17/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A61B17/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
SEVERSON, RYAN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JERVIS E. JAMES (ATHERTON, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A suture retainer comprising a retainer body, a suture attachment mechanism adapted to hold a suture strand at an attachment point and a suture guide mechanism adapted to maintain an angle between the suture strand and the suture attachment mechanism.

2. The suture retainer of claim 1 wherein the suture attachment mechanism comprises at least a pair of teeth.

3. The suture retainer of claim 1 wherein the suture attachment mechanism is adapted to releasably hold the suture strand.

4. The suture retainer of claim 1 wherein the suture guide mechanism comprises a projection from the retainer body.

5. The suture retainer of claim 1 wherein the suture guide mechanism is adapted to be a first contact point of the suture strand with the suture retainer.

6. The suture retainer of claim 1 wherein the suture attachment mechanism comprises a needle-end suture attachment mechanism, the suture retainer further comprising a non-needle-end suture attachment mechanism adapted to hold a non-needle-end of the suture strand.

7. The suture retainer of claim 6 wherein the non-needle-end suture attachment mechanism is disposed radially inward from each of the needle-end suture attachment mechanisms.

8. The suture retainer of claim 6 wherein the retainer body comprises a first member and a second member, at least a portion of the second member being adapted to be inserted into the first member to comprise the non-needle-end suture attachment mechanism.

9. The suture retainer of claim 8 wherein the second member comprises a slot which interacts with the first member to hold the non-needle-end of the suture strand.

10. The suture retainer of claim 1 wherein the retainer body comprises a first member and a second member, at least a portion of the second member being adapted to be inserted into the first member to hold a non-needle-end of the suture strand.

11. The suture retainer of claim 10 further comprising an alignment mechanism adapted to orient the second member with respect to the first member.

12. The suture retainer of claim 10 further comprising a movable connection between the first member and the second member.

13. The suture retainer of claim 10 further comprising a snap connection between the first member and the second member.

14. The suture retainer of claim 10 wherein the suture guide mechanism comprises a projection from the first member.

15. The suture retainer of claim 10 wherein the suture guide mechanism comprises a projection from the second member.

16. A method of securing a suture in a suture retainer comprising: providing a suture retainer comprising a retainer body and a suture attachment mechanism; contacting a suture strand with a suture guide to maintain an angle between the suture strand and the suture attachment mechanism; and attaching the suture strand to the retainer body at the suture attachment mechanism.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein the suture attachment mechanism comprises at least a pair of teeth, the method further comprising inserting the suture strand between the pair of teeth.

18. The method of claim 16 further comprising releasing the suture strand from the suture attachment mechanism after the attaching step.

19. The method of claim 18 further comprising reattaching the suture strand to the suture attachment mechanism after the releasing step.

20. The method of claim 16 wherein the contacting step comprises contacting with the suture guide a portion of the suture strand between a point where the suture strand leaves a tissue surface and a point where the suture strand contacts a suture attachment mechanism.

21. The method of claim 16 wherein the attaching step comprises attaching a needle-end of the suture strand to needle-end suture attachment mechanisms, the method further comprising attaching a non-needle-end of the suture strand to the suture retainer.

22. The method of claim 21 wherein the retainer body comprises a first member and a second member, the step of attaching the non-needle-end of the suture strand comprising inserting at least a portion of the second member into the first member to hold the non-needle-end of the suture strand.

23. The method of claim 21 wherein the retainer body comprises a movable connection between the first member and the second member, the inserting step comprising moving the second member about the movable connection with respect to the first member.

24. The method of claim 22 further comprising snapping the first and second members together.

25. A suturing method comprising: attaching a first end of a suture strand to a suture retainer; contacting a tissue contact portion of the suture strand with tissue to be sutured, the tissue contact portion being disposed between the first end of the suture strand and a second end of the suture strand; contacting the second end of the suture strand with a suture guide to maintain an angle between the suture strand and a suture attachment point; and attaching the second end of the suture strand to the suture retainer at the suture attachment point.

26. The method of claim 25 wherein the step of attaching the second end of the suture strand comprises placing the second end of the suture strand between a pair of teeth disposed at the suture attachment point.

27. The method of claim 25 further comprising detaching the second end of the suture strand from the suture attachment point.

28. The method of claim 27 further comprising reattaching the second end of the suture strand to the suture retainer at the suture attachment point after the detaching step.

29. The method of claim 25 wherein the step of attaching the first end of the suture strand comprises inserting at least a portion of a first suture retainer body member into a second suture retainer body member.

30. The method of claim 29 wherein the step of attaching the first end of the suture strand comprises placing the first end of the suture strand into a slot formed in the first suture retainer body member.

31. The method of claim 29 wherein the inserting step comprises aligning the first suture retainer body member with the second suture retainer body member.

32. The method of claim 31 wherein the aligning step comprises rotating the second body member to align a second suture retainer body member alignment element with a first suture retainer body member alignment element.

33. The method of claim 25 wherein the step of contacting the second end of the suture strand with the suture guide comprises making a first contact of the second end of the suture strand with the suture retainer.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to suture retainers and methods of using suture retainers. In particular, the invention relates to suture retainers using suture guides.

Sutures are used for a variety of surgical purposes, such as approximation of tissue and ligation of tissue. Most generally, when placing sutures, the strand of suture material to be used has a needle affixed to one end. The needle is passed through the tissue to be approximated or ligated, forming a stitch. The stitch is then tensioned appropriately, and the two ends of the suture, the needle end and the non-needle end, are knotted to retain the desired tension in the stitch. Sometimes the ends are knotted together; in other instances they may be stoppered separately, often with the aid of a clip or other device to form resistance to passage through tissue. While forming knots in suture during open surgery is a simple matter, forming knots in suture during endoscopic surgery can be very difficult.

Suture retainers may be used in place of suture knots to prevent passage of a suture end into and through tissue and to maintain the tension applied to the suture material during the suturing procedure. Suture clips and other suture retainers are described in the following publications: U.S. Pat. No. 5,234,449; U.S. Pat. No. 5,383,905; U.S. Pat. No. 5,391,173; U.S. Pat. No. 5,643,295; U.S. Pat. No. 5,645,553; U.S. Pat. No. 5,735,877; U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,645; U.S. Pat. No. 5,895,393; U.S. Pat. No. 6,015,428; U.S. Pat. No. 6,066,160; U.S. Pat. No. 6,231,592; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,432,123.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a suture retainer with multiple circumferentially spaced attachment points. The invention also provides a suture retainer with a suture guide mechanism adapted to maintain an angle between a suture strand and a suture attachment mechanism. While the suture retainer of this invention can be used in conventional open surgeries or external surgeries, the invention is particularly useful for endoscopic suturing.

The suture retainer according to one aspect of the invention has a retainer body, a suture attachment mechanism adapted to hold a suture strand at an attachment point and a suture guide mechanism adapted to maintain an angle between the suture strand and the suture attachment mechanism. In some embodiments, the suture attachment mechanism is adapted to releasably hold the suture strand.

In some embodiments, the suture guide mechanism includes a projection from the retainer body. The suture guide mechanism may be adapted to be a first contact point of the suture strand with the suture retainer.

In some embodiments, the suture attachment mechanism has a needle-end suture attachment mechanism, with the suture retainer further including a non-needle-end suture attachment mechanism adapted to hold a non-needle-end of the suture strand. The non-needle-end suture attachment mechanism may be disposed radially inward from each of the needle-end suture attachment mechanisms. Also, in some embodiments, the retainer body has a first member and a second member, with at least a portion of the second member being adapted to be inserted into the first member to comprise the non-needle-end suture attachment mechanism, such as a slot which interacts with the first member to hold the non-needle-end of the suture strand. The suture retainer may also have an alignment mechanism adapted to orient the second member with respect to the first member. In some embodiments, the suture retainer also has a movable connection between the first member and the second member, and in some embodiments the suture retainer has a snap connection between the first member and the second member. In embodiments in which the retainer body has a first member and second member, the suture guide mechanism may project from the first member and/or the second member.

Another aspect of the invention provides a method of securing a suture in a suture retainer, including the following steps: providing a suture retainer having a retainer body and a suture attachment mechanism; contacting a suture strand with a suture guide to maintain an angle between the suture strand and the suture attachment mechanism; and attaching the suture strand to the retainer body at the suture attachment mechanism. In some embodiments, the suture attachment mechanism has at least a pair of teeth, with the method further including the step of inserting the suture strand between the pair of teeth. The method may also include the step of releasing the suture strand from the suture attachment mechanism after the attaching step and possibly the step of reattaching the suture strand to the suture attachment mechanism after the releasing step.

In some embodiments, the contacting step includes the step of contacting with the suture guide a portion of the suture strand between a point where the suture strand leaves a tissue surface and a point where the suture strand contacts a suture attachment mechanism. In some embodiments, the attaching step includes the step of attaching a needle-end of the suture strand to needle-end suture attachment mechanisms, with the method further including the step of attaching a non-needle-end of the suture strand to the suture retainer. In embodiments in which the retainer body has a first member and a second member, the step of attaching the non-needle-end of the suture strand may include the step of inserting at least a portion of the second member into the first member to hold the non-needle-end of the suture strand. In embodiments in which the retainer body has a movable connection between the first member and the second member, the inserting step may include the step of moving the second member about the movable connection with respect to the first member and possibly the step of snapping the first and second members together.

Yet another aspect of the invention provides a suturing method including the following steps: attaching a first end of a suture strand to a suture retainer; contacting a tissue contact portion of the suture strand with tissue to be sutured, the tissue contact portion being disposed between the first end of the suture strand and a second end of the suture strand; contacting the second end of the suture strand with a suture guide to maintain an angle between the suture strand and a suture attachment point; and attaching the second end of the suture strand to the suture retainer at the suture attachment point. In some embodiments the step of attaching the second end of the suture strand includes the step of placing the second end of the suture strand between a pair of teeth disposed at the suture attachment point. The method may also include the step of detaching the second end of the suture strand from the suture attachment point and possibly the step of reattaching the second end of the suture strand to the suture retainer at the attachment point after the detaching step.

In some embodiments, the step of attaching the first end of the suture strand includes the step of inserting at least a portion of a first suture retainer body member into a second suture retainer body member. The attaching step may also include the step of placing the first end of the suture strand into a slot formed in the first suture retainer body member. The inserting step may include the step of aligning the first suture retainer body member with the second suture retainer body member, such as by rotating the second body member to align a second suture retainer body member alignment element with a first suture retainer body member alignment element.

In some embodiments, the step of contacting the second end of the suture strand with the suture guide includes the step of making a first contact of the second end of the suture strand with the suture retainer.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

All publications and patent applications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each individual publication or patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The novel features of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. A better understanding of the features and advantages of the present invention will be obtained by reference to the following detailed description that sets forth illustrative embodiments, in which the principles of the invention are utilized, and the accompanying drawings of which:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a suture retainer according to one embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the suture retainer of FIG. 1, partially assembled.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of a plug portion of the suture retainer of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a top elevational view of the plug portion of the suture retainer shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a medial cross-sectional view of the wheel portion of one embodiment of the suture retainer of this invention with a suture strand laid into the attachment mechanisms.

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the wheel portion of the suture retainer shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the suture retainer shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 shows a suture retainer according to one embodiment of this invention in use to retain a suture strand.

FIG. 9 is a top elevational view of a suture attachment feature that may be used with embodiments of this invention.

FIG. 10 is a top elevational view of the wheel portion of yet another embodiment of the suture retainer of this invention.

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line A-A of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a side elevational view of the plug portion of the embodiment of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is a schematic view of an assembled suture retainer according to the embodiment of FIGS. 10-12 showing a suture in place.

FIG. 14 is a top elevational view of the wheel portion of another embodiment of the suture retainer of this invention.

FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line A-A of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a top elevational view of the plug portion of the embodiment of FIG. 14.

FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of a suture and a partially assembled suture retainer according to the embodiment of FIGS. 14-16, prior to use.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1-7 show embodiments of a suture retainer 10 with two principal parts: a wheel portion 12 and a plug portion 14. Wheel portion 12 has sets of teeth 16 arranged around its circumference. As shown best in FIG. 7, tooth sets 16 each have a pair of inclined facing edges 18 and 20 that diverge from the center of wheel portion 12 toward the outer circumference of wheel portion 12. The spacing and angle of inclined surfaces 18 and 20 are chosen to engage the diameter of the suture strand with which the retainer is intended to be used. In one embodiment, for example, the angle between the inclined surfaces of each tooth set is about 10° or less.

In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-7, wheel portion 12 has three sets of teeth arranged about the circumference of wheel portion 12 in a manner to produce pull angles of between about 50° and 70° for each tooth set. Pull angle is defined as the angle formed on the “pull” side of the tooth set between a suture held by the tooth set and a line normal to a plane formed by the juxtaposed edges of the teeth. The tooth sets extend radially from the center of wheel portion 12 or may extend on an angle from a radius in order to provide the desired pull angle. In other embodiments, the suture retainer may have one, two or more than three sets of suture attachment mechanisms, such as the teeth shown in the embodiments of FIGS. 1-7.

A pair of plates or flanges 22 and 24 surround and support the tooth sets. Plates 22 and 24 also aid the surgeon in passing the needle end of the suture around wheel portion 12 to engage successive tooth sets. Wheel portion 12 has a central opening 26 and an alignment hole 28. Opening 26 and hole 28 mate with corresponding portions of plug portion 14 when the suture retainer is assembled.

Plug portion has lock arms 30 and 32 extending from a plate 34. Lock arms 30 and 32 have cam surfaces 36 and 38, respectively that are adapted to bend arms 30 and 32 inward when surfaces 36 and 38 engage the edges of opening 26 in wheel portion 12. A slot 40 is formed between arms 30 and 32.

Also extending from plate 34 is a suture guide mechanism (such as hook 42 in FIG. 1 or tab 50 in FIG. 7) and an alignment member 44. Alignment member 44 extends into alignment hole 28 when plug portion 14 is connected to wheel portion 12. This arrangement sets the position of the suture guide mechanism (e.g., hook 42) with respect to one of the tooth sets 16 so that hook may serve as a retainer or guide for a suture strand as it enters a first tooth set 16, as described below. Other means of aligning the plug and wheel portions of the suture retainer may be used, of course, without departing from the invention.

To use the suture retainer, the non-needle-end of a suture is inserted into the slot 40, preferably when the suture retainer is in the partially assembled configuration shown in FIG. 3. Plug portion 14 is then advanced completely into wheel portion 12, with alignment member 44 aligned with alignment hole 28. As lock arms 30 and 32 move into opening 26, cam surfaces 36 and 38 engage the edges of opening 26 to move arms 30 and 32 inward. After cam surfaces 36 and 38 have completely passed through opening 26, arms 30 and 32 move outwardly so that lock surfaces 46 and 48 formed on arms 30 and 32, respectively, engage the far side of plate 24 in a snap connection, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 7, and the suture strand is gripped firmly, preferably in a controlled clearance space between the shaft of the plug and the bore of the wheel.

When thus assembled, the non-needle-end of the suture strand is held firmly by suture retainer 10. The surgeon can then pass the needle and needle-end of the suture strand through and/or around the tissue 2 to be sutured or ligated, pulling suture retainer 10 against the surface of the tissue, as shown in FIG. 8. When the suture stitch is complete, the surgeon passes the needle-end 6 of the suture strand 4 around and in engagement with the suture guide mechanism 42, tensions the stitch, then guides the needle-end of the suture strand in succession into the three sets of teeth 16, maintaining the tension in the suture strand as the surgeon progresses. If the stitch tension and suture retainer grip are satisfactory, the surgeon then may sever the unused ends of the suture strand. If, however, the stitch needs to be retensioned to either increase or decrease tissue approximation or the retainer grip needs to be adjusted, the surgeon may pull the suture strand away from the tooth sets, then retension the stitch and reengage the suture strand with the suture retainer. While the illustrations show a clockwise wrapping of the suture, other embodiments of the invention may employ counterclockwise wrapping of the suture around the retainer.

The shape and position of hook 42 help retain the suture strand's orientation and pull angle with respect to the first set of teeth 16 it encounters. In addition, the curved end of hook 42 helps retain the suture strand in place after the suturing procedure has been completed. Other shapes and manners of suture strand guides may be used in place of hook 42, such as tabs, posts, rings, etc. In addition, the suture strand guide of this invention may be used with suture retainers having one, two or more than three suture attachment mechanisms.

FIG. 9 shows an optional feature for holding the far end of the needle-end of the suture strand after engagement with the retainer's sets of teeth. A slot 54 is formed in plate 24 of suture retainer 10. The end of the suture strand may be placed within slot 54 to provide additional retention of the suture and to maintain the retention of the suture provided by the last set of teeth before severing and removing the needle end of the suture. The slot may be tapered or parallel, as shown, and may be used with any of the embodiments of this invention. This feature may also be used to retain one end of a suture strand without regard to whether, or the manner in which, the other end of the suture strand is retained.

Another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 10-13. Suture retainer 60 has a wheel portion 62 and a plug portion 64. Like the previous embodiments, wheel portion 62 has sets of teeth 66 arranged about a circumference of wheel portion 62. A pair of plates or flanges 68 and 70 surround and support the tooth sets. Wheel portion 62 also has a central opening 72 with a movable member 74 formed inside the opening. A suture guide mechanism 76 extends from wheel portion 62.

Plug portion 64 has a slot 78 and a groove 80. A tab 82 extends from the top surface of plug portion 64. Prior to insertion (or after partial insertion) of plug 64 into wheel 62 in the direction shown by the arrow in FIG. 11, the non-needle-end of a suture strand 86 may be inserted into slot 78 and, if desired, wrapped around groove 80 and back through slot 78. Plug 64 is then inserted fully into opening 72 of wheel 62 from the bottom, as shown in FIG. 11. As it is inserted, the plug's tab 82 pushes the top of the wheel's movable member 74 radially away from the center of opening 72. When the plug's tab 82 reaches a space 84 above movable member 74, movable member 74 moves back toward the center of opening 72, snapping plug 64 in place within wheel 62. In this position, the non-needle-end of suture strand 86 is held firmly by suture retainer 60. The suture thread may be tensioned downward, as shown in FIG. 13.

After assembly of the suture retainer, the surgeon may then use the needle-end of the suture to perform the suturing or ligation procedure. As in the other embodiments, when the suture stitch is complete, the surgeon passes the needle-end of the suture strand around the suture guide 76, then inserts the suture strand in succession into the sets of teeth 66. Thereafter, the surgeon may place the needle-end of the suture strand into a slot 88 formed in plate or flange 68.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 10-13, the top and bottom edges of plug 64 lie flush with the top and bottom edges of wheel 62. This arrangement is an optional feature of the invention. Also, it should be understood that other suture attachment mechanisms and other numbers of suture attachment mechanisms may be used in the suture retainer of this invention.

FIGS. 14-17 show yet another embodiment of this invention. Suture retainer 100 has a wheel portion 102 and a plug portion 104. Like the previous embodiments, wheel portion 102 has sets of teeth 106 arranged about a circumference of wheel portion 102. A pair of plates or flanges 108 and 110 surround and support the tooth sets. Wheel portion 102 also has a central opening 112 with a movable arm 114 formed inside the opening. A suture guide mechanism 116 extends from wheel portion 112.

Plug portion 104 has a pair of pins 107 extending from an upper surface. When the suture retainer is assembled prior to use, pins 107 are snapped into openings formed by pairs of arms 118 extending upward from the upper surface of flange 108 of wheel 102 to form a hinge to allow rotational movement between plug 104 and wheel 102. Other forms of movable connection between the plug and wheel are also covered by this invention.

FIG. 17 shows the arrangement of plug 104 and wheel 102 prior to use of the suture retainer. A loop 120 formed in the non-needle-end of a suture strand is passed up through opening 112. The suture strand may then be wrapped one or more times around plug 104 with the suture strand lying in grooves 122 (and groove 123, for multiple suture wraps) formed in plug 104. Plug 104 is then rotated downward about the hinge formed by pins 107 and arms 118. As the bottom of plug 104 enters opening 112, an angled surface 124 of plug 104 engages an angled surface formed on the top of a tab 126 of movable arm 114, pushing the top of arm 114 radially outward. When plug 104 has been completely inserted into wheel 102, tab 126 moves radially inward into a slot 128 formed in plug 104 to latch plug 104 in place within wheel 102. The surgeon may then use the needle-end of the suture to perform the suturing or ligation procedure. As in the other embodiments, when the suture stitch is complete, the surgeon passes the needle-end of the suture strand around the suture guide 116, then inserts the suture strand in succession into the sets of teeth 106 to hold the suture in place.

The use of circumferentially spaced tooth sets provides multiple suture attachment mechanisms each at desired pull angles. This arrangement reduces the likelihood of slippage of the suture strand in the event one of the attachment points fails or provides less than 100% of the required tensioning force. Other numbers of tooth sets set at other pull angles may also be used. In addition, other attachment mechanisms may be used in place of the tooth sets described above, such as high friction surfaces, hooks, posts, rings, etc.

The components of the device described above can be made of medically suitable metal or plastics, including bio-absorbable polymers. Example materials include stainless steel, polycarbonate and polyglycolide.

While preferred embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described herein, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that such embodiments are provided by way of example only. Numerous variations, changes, and substitutions will now occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. It should be understood that various alternatives to the embodiments of the invention described herein may be employed in practicing the invention. It is intended that the following claims define the scope of the invention and that methods and structures within the scope of these claims and their equivalents be covered thereby.