Title:
Ratchet handle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A surgical ratchet assembly includes a handle, a driver, a ratcheting mechanism and a locking mechanism. The driver is received within the handle in a rotatable relationship with respect thereto. The ratcheting mechanism is interposed between the handle and the driver. Unlocking of the locking mechanism enables ready disassembly of the assembly for cleaning and component sterilization. A superelastic biasing means is used. The cap reverser further prevents rotation beyond the depressions therein.



Inventors:
White, Patrick (West Chester, PA, US)
Bennet, Jeffrey (Pottstown, PA, US)
Doran, Michael (Paoli, PA, US)
Young, Robert (Loganville, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/244301
Publication Date:
11/09/2006
Filing Date:
10/05/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B25B13/46
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SCRUGGS, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Greatbatch Ltd. (Clarence, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A ratcheting tool having a ratcheting mechanism comprising: (a) a housing; (b) at least one pawl pivotally disposed in the housing; and (c) at least one cantilever wire spring engaged with the at least one pawl to bias the pawl into engagement with corresponding ratchet teeth, wherein the spring enters through an aperture in a side of the housing.

2. The ratcheting tool of claim 1, wherein the spring is fixed via a fastening device in the side of the housing.

3. The ratcheting tool of claim 1, wherein the spring is fixed via a staking operation in the side of the housing.

4. The ratcheting tool of claim 1, wherein the spring is slender and substantially straight.

5. The ratcheting tool of claim 1, wherein the spring is made of a super-elastic material.

6. The ratcheting tool of claim 1, wherein the spring is made of a super-elastic material.

7. The ratcheting tool of claim 2, wherein the spring is made of a super-elastic material.

8. The ratcheting tool of claim 3, wherein the spring is made of a super-elastic material.

9. The ratcheting tool of claim 4, wherein the spring is made of a super-elastic material.

10. The ratcheting tool of claim 5, wherein the spring is made of Nitinol.

11. The ratcheting tool of claim 1, further including a reverser disposed in a structure to rotate with respect to the housing.

12. The ratcheting tool of claim 11, wherein the reverser is adapted to selectively move the at least one pawl into and out of engagement with teeth on a toothed hub to select between positive torque throughput of the ratchet handle and free-rotation.

13. The ratcheting tool of claim 11, wherein the reverser is adapted to selectively move the at least one pawl into and out of engagement with the ratchet teeth to enable the selection between positive torque throughput of the ratchet handle and free-wheeling.

14. The ratcheting tool of claim 13, wherein the ratcheting tool includes at least two opposed pawls against which the reverser reacts to selectively move one pawl out of engagement with the teeth while the other is permitted to engage the teeth, thereby enabling reversing of the direction of ratcheting and positive throughput.

15. The ratcheting tool of claim 11, in which the housing including at least one slot including a generally arcuate end circumscribing an angle of greater than 180 degrees.

16. The ratcheting tool of claim 15, wherein at least one pawl is disposed in the at least one slot, the pawl including a generally circular stem at one end that is rotatably engaged within the arcuate end of the slot.

17. The ratcheting tool of claim 16, wherein the reverser includes a at least one recess aligned with and disposed at least partially above the at least one slot in the housing and selectively engageable with the at least one pawl, and further, wherein a stop pin, fixed to the housing, engages a slot in the reverser to limit the rotational movement of the reverser between two positions.

18. A ratcheting tool having a ratcheting mechanism comprising: (a) a housing; (b) at least one pawl pivotally disposed in the housing; and (c) at least one cantilever wire spring engaged with the at least one pawl to bias the pawl into engagement with corresponding ratchet teeth; wherein the housing includes a pair of slots, each slot including a generally arcuate end circumscribing an angle of greater than 180 degrees; wherein a pair of pawls are disposed in the pair of slots, each pawl including a generally circular stem at one end that is rotatably engaged within the arcuate end of the slot; wherein the ratcheting tool includes a reverser disposed in a structure to rotate with respect to the housing, the reverser being adapted to selectively move the at least one pawl into and out of engagement with teeth on a toothed hub to select between positive torque throughput of the ratchet handle and free-rotation and wherein the reverser includes at least one recesse aligned with and disposed at least partially above the at least one slot in the housing and selectively engageable with the at least one pawl, and further, wherein a stop pin, fixed to the housing, engages a slot in the reverser to limit the rotational movement of the reverser between two positions.

19. A kit for surgical use, the kit including a surgical ratchet including a ratcheting mechanism a housing, at least one pawl pivotally disposed in the housing; and at least one cantilever wire spring made of super-elastic material and engaged with the at least one pawl to bias the pawl into engagement with corresponding ratchet teeth, tools for use with the ratchet, a selection of surgical fasteners and a case having recesses into which the ratchet and the tools may be conveniently stored until use.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional patent application, Ser. No. 60/678,245, of the same name, filed on May 5, 2005, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference thereto.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to drivers for rotary surgical cutting tools, and, more particularly, to drivers used in maxillo-facial, neuro, dental and orthopedic surgery, including reamer drivers.

Screwdrivers and other hand-held tools are often utilized to insert, remove and/or adjust fasteners attached to various items. The tool is used to rotate the fasteners into or out of apertures in the items to properly position the fasteners with respect to the items. The rotation is controlled such that there is relatively free rotation in one direction and driven, locked rotation in the opposite direction.

Ratcheting mechanisms of this type take various forms, such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,613,585; 5,619,891; 5,778,743; 5,873,288; and 5,943,755, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference thereto and relied upon. In each of these mechanisms, a pair of pawls are disposed within a housing for the tool. The pawls are selectively engageable and disengageable from a toothed gear disposed within the tool housing in order to enable the gear to rotate in a specified direction when adjusting, inserting or removing a fastener However, while tools incorporating ratcheting mechanisms of this type are useful in adjusting, inserting and removing fasteners from various items, the mechanisms also have certain drawbacks. For example, due to the large spacing of the teeth on the gear, ratchet tools must often be rotated more than approximately 10 degrees in order to advance the ratcheting mechanism to the next locking position. In situations where precise movements of a fastener are necessary, the tools incorporating mechanisms of the above-referenced type with gears of this size are not suitable as these mechanisms are very “coarse” and do not allow for precise movements of the fastener.

Further, the prior art ratcheting mechanisms generally include a large number of parts assembled within the housing in order to complete the ratcheting mechanism, the complexity increasing the time and expense necessary for manufacturing tools incorporating these prior art ratcheting mechanisms.

Therefore, what is needed is a simpler mechanism with fewer parts of simpler form.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A surgical ratchet assembly includes a handle, a driver, a ratcheting mechanism and a locking mechanism. The driver is received within the handle in a rotatable relationship with respect thereto. The ratcheting mechanism is interposed between the handle and the driver. The ratcheting mechanism includes a pawl which can be selectively locked out of engagement with a toothed hub via a reverser. A pair of pawls is preferred. A locking mechanism releasably holds the handle to the ratchet mechanism. Cantilever springs bias the pawl into engagement with the toothed hub.

In a feature of the invention, the cantilever springs are made of super-elastic material, thereby providing lasting, reliable activation of the pawls and long life to the ratchet.

In another feature, the cantilever form and the use of nickel-titanium in the construction of the cantilever springs enables the spring to exert a nearly constant biasing force biasing the pawl into engagement with the hub.

In another feature, the narrow form of the springs permit the bulk of the ratchet mechanism to be reduced without sacrificing strength or reliability.

In another feature, the cantilever springs enter the assembly from the side of the housing, thus permitting maintenance and/or replacement without having to disassemble the housing assembly (e.g., removing the reverser is not necessary to access the springs).

In another feature, the reverser includes a position in which both pawls are in an engaged position, thus locking the ratchet mechanism against free movement in either direction.

The object of the invention is to provide a ratchet that is easy to operate and does so reliably.

Another object of the invention is to provide a simpler mechanism with fewer parts as no mounting pin is required for the biasing springs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the ratchet handle of the invention.

FIG. 2a is a perspective view of the ratchet mechanism of the invention, showing the workings therein.

FIG. 2b is a perspective view of the cap reverser reverser of the invention.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the ratchet mechanism of the invention

FIG. 4a is a perspective view of an alternate spring of the invention.

FIG. 4b is a perspective view of another alternate spring of the invention.

FIG. 4c is a perspective view of still another alternate spring of the invention.

FIG. 4d is a perspective view of still another alternate spring of the invention.

FIG. 5a is a top view showing the positioning of the biasing means against the pawls of the invention.

FIG. 5b is a perspective view showing the positioning of the biasing means against the pawls of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a kit of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

This invention has structural similarities to U.S. Pat. No. 6,817,458 to Gauthier, and WO 2004/096069, PCT/IB2004/001244, the contents of both of which are incorporated herein by reference and relied upon

Referring now to FIG. 1, the ratchet handle 10 of the invention is shown, including essentially a handle portion 12, a coupling end 14, and a housing assembly 16 in which is disposed a drive spindle 20 having a toothed hub 22.

Referring now to FIGS. 2a and 2b, a ratchet mechanism 24 is disposed between the toothed hub 22 and the handle 12, in order to enable a user to selectively torque fasteners (not shown), in a desired direction dependent on the position of a reverser 26. The reverser 26 is a cap-shaped structure having an internal aperture 30 and position selection holes 32, 34 and 36 which pass through a wall 38 of the cap. A crest of a ball detent 40 in the housing 48 enters into such holes 32, 34, or 36 to retain the reverser 26 in the desired position (neutral, locked counterclockwise, free rotating clockwise, and vice-versa). Arcuate cutouts 42 and 44 are located on opposite sides of the aperture 30 and are formed to include corresponding cam surfaces 42a and 44a. These cam surfaces 42a and 44a are disposed on an arcuate cam structure 42b and 44b which passes between a centering shoulder 46 and each pawl 50a and 50b such that, the adjacent pawl 50a or 50b may be cammed in or out of engagement with teeth 54 on the toothed hub 22. The pawls 50a and 50b are held in functional relationship by their generally circular stem 50c and 50d, respectively, in arcuate end surfaces 48a and 48b of slots 48c and 48d of a housing 48, into which the pawls are disposed. Elongated, slender wire springs 52a and 52b (which can have a circular cross-section, oval cross-section, an uncut rectangular cross-section, even polygonal cross section, as typically results from a rolled or extruded manufacturing process and not cut, flat sheet processing), preferably made of Nickel-Titanium alloy (a.k.a., “nitinol”, from the laboratory that developed it, the Nickel/Titanium/Naval Ordinance Laboratory), a super-elastic, shape memory material, are fixed (using, for example, set screws, or by press fitting, or by a staking operation in the housing, and optionally using a mating nickel-titanium alloy component such as a collet device) in holes 49a and 49b, so as to act as cantilever springs, to urge the pawls 50a and 50b against the teeth 54 of the hub 22. Nitinol alloys have the unusual ability to recover a preset shape, even after drastic distortion. Composition is typically 55%-56% Nickel and 44%-45% Titanium, but slight adjustments of this ratio can significantly impact the properties of the material. There are two primary but overlapping categories of Nitinol. “SuperElastic” alloys are characterized by extraordinary kink resistance and flexibility. The Nitinol Wire used in the invention is a super-elastic alloy which can be strained eight to ten times more than ordinary spring steel without permanent deformation. It can be rather severely compressed, bent or otherwise distorted, but returns to its original shape. This impressive “memory” takes advantage of stress-induced martensitic transformation. In other words, a material is super-elastic when, if sufficient stresses are applied, such materials exhibit martensitic activation/transformation (i.e., deform from an austenitic crystal structure to a stress-induced structure postulated to be martensitic in nature), returning thence to the austenitic state when the stress is removed. The alternate crystal structures described give the alloy super-elastic or pseudo-elastic properties. Poisson's Ratio for nitinol is about 0.3, but this ratio significantly increases up to approximately 0.5 or more when the shape memory alloy is stretched beyond its initial elastic limit. It is at this point that stress-induced martensite is said to occur, i.e., the point beyond which the material is permanently deformed and thus incapable of returning to its initial austenitic shape. Note that although Nickel-Titanim alloys are currently preferred, inexpensive super-elastic steel alloys are now known and of course may be used. The wire used herein has an annealed temper that is straight in shape. A new memory is imparted to the Nitinol wire by restraining the material in exactly the shape required and heating to a temperature above 932° F. (500° C.) for a minimum of five minutes. The shape will be set upon cooling and will exhibit the same flexibility and resistance to deformation as the original wire. And it can be repeatedly retrained to achieve new shapes.

Referring to FIGS. 3a to 3d, suitable wire springs 52a and 52b may have a circular cross-section 60, oval cross-section 62, and uncut rectangular cross-section 64, even polygonal cross section 66, as typically results from a rolled or extruded manufacturing process and not cut flat sheet processing which creates stress risers which limit the functional life of the spring. In addition, the length of the spring 52a, and 52b may be processed so that the cross-section varies in bending moment of inertia along its length 52′, then enabling further control of the biasing forces applied to the pawl 50a and 50b. With spring material such as super-elastic Nitinol or super-elastic steels, controlled processing of the spring 52a or 52b in order to vary and control the bending moment of inertia requires that the spring be formed in an annealed state, prior to heat treating to activate super-elastic properties. Further, where the cross-section is varied in form along the length 52a′ of the spring 52a or 52b in a non-symmetrical manner, then, a portion of the end 52c of the spring may be turned up and then against itself, in order to create a feature by which the spring can be held during processing of the non-symmetrical forming of the spring and to enable fixing of the spring in the desired orientation (the orientation that provides the deflection and force characteristics desired). Orientation can be achieved as well via use of a non-round aperture in the housing 46 into which the end 52c is fixed. The spring 52a or 52b may alternatively be deformed at an end 52d to create a feature from which an orientation convention can key off of. Of course, the fixing device (e.g., fastener) must also key off of the non-symmetrical end to orient the spring 52a or 52b properly in the housing 46. In any case, after processing, the cross-section should have overall width dimensions that are substantially the same across the centerline of the wire.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,683,404 to Johnson, entitled “Clamp and Method for its Use”, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference thereto, further discusses shape memory materials that are “pseudo-elastic”, defining these materials to be super-elastic, because of their ability to exhibit super -elastic/pseudo-elastic recovery characteristics at room temperature.

Thus, a user is able to select which pawl 50a or 50b is engaged, thereby selecting the direction in which the ratchet handle 10 freely rotates which respect to the spindle 20 and the direction in which the pawls 50a or 50b lock the teeth 54 as well as the direction in which the pawls are positioned such that the spindle 20 is free to rotation in the opposite direction. The position of the reverser 26 with respect to the housing assembly 16 is determined by a frictional or interference engagement of a ball-detent 40 in one of the holes 32, 34, or 36.

Referring now to FIG. 4, an exploded view of the ratchet mechanism 24 of the invention includes the housing 48, the pawls 50a and 50b, the cantilever springs 52a and 52b, a stop pin 56 (which engages an elongated slot 58 of the reverser 26), the toothed hub 22, and the reverser 26. The stop pin 56 is press fit into the housing 48 so as to be fixed therein.

Referring now to FIGS. 5a and 5b the cantilever springs 52a and 52b bias the pawls 50a and 50b against the teeth 54 of the hub 22 wherein the extremeties 52e of such springs are disposed in recesses 50a′ and 50b′ of the pawls. The form of the spring 52a and 52b may be curved in a section 52e′, in order to minimize wear on the pawls 50a and 50b.

The springs 52a and 52b are secured to the housing 48 at the first end and free to deflect at the second end. Thus, unlike U.S. Pat. No. 6,817,458 to Gauthier, the biasing members are the cantilevered springs 52a and 52b and not torsional springs. Further, as already mentioned, the cantilever bar of the invention is optionally made of Nitinol, a super-elastic titanium alloy allowing high flexibility and providing a more constant spring force biasing the pawls 50a and 50b against the teeth 54 of the hub 22. A constant biasing force provides smoother ratcheting by avoiding drastic variation in biasing force against the teeth 54, which, if not substantially constant, would cause intermittent dragging of the pawl as it passes from one tooth position to another.

In addition, to further prevent the reverser 26 from rotating past the depressions therein (ref. column 6, line 6, Gauthier '458), the stop pin 56, which is separate from the biasing members 52a and 52b, engages a slot in the cap reverser, similar to Tiede, U.S. Pat. No. 5,613,585 (see column 3, line 25 thereof), the content of which is incorporated herein by reference and relied upon.

Referring now to FIG. 6 , the kit 150 is shown, including the ratchet 10, tools 130, 132, 134, 136, a T-bar 138 and a guide pin 139. The components of the kit 150 are organized in a case 160 having recesses into which the ratchet and the tools may be conveniently stored until use. A selection of surgical fasteners and, optionally, bone plates and other hardware, as well as ancillary tools may be conveniently stored until needed in a particular surgical protocol.

In an advantage of the invention, the cantilever form of the springs 52a and 52b, together with the fact that the springs are made of super-elastic material provide a lasting, reliable activation of the pawls 50a and 50b and long life to the ratchet.

In another advantage, the cantilever form of the springs 52a and 52b and the use of nickel-titanium in the construction of the cantilever springs enables the springs to exert a nearly constant biasing force biasing the pawls so as to engage them with the hub 22.

In another advantage, the narrow form of the springs 52a and 52b permit the bulk of the ratchet mechanism to be reduced without sacrificing strength or reliability.

In another advantage, the cantilever springs 52a and 52b enter the housing 48 from the side of the housing, thus permitting maintenance and/or replacement of such springs without having to disassemble the housing assembly 16 (e.g., removing the reverser is not necessary to access the springs).

In another advantage, the reverser 26 includes a position in which both pawls 50a and 50b are in an engaged position, thus locking the ratchet mechanism against free movement in either direction.

The object of the invention is to provide a ratchet 10 that is easy to operate and does so reliably.

Another object of the invention is to provide a simpler mechanism with fewer parts as no mounting pin is required for the biasing springs 52a or 52b.

Although the term “driver” may be used herein, this term is meant to encompass taps, guide pins, screwdrivers, reamer drivers and any tool which needs to be fastened and held, even rotated, in a controlled manner.

Multiple variations and modifications are possible in the embodiments of the invention described here. Although certain illustrative embodiments of the invention have been shown and described here, a wide range of modifications, changes, and substitutions is contemplated in the foregoing disclosure. In some instances, some features of the present invention may be employed without a corresponding use of the other features. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the foregoing description be construed broadly and understood as being given by way of illustration and example only, the spirit and scope of the invention being limited only by the appended claims.