Surgical needle abstract
A surgical needle discard container which includes a plurality
of needle receiving compartments defined therein. A lid is rotatably
attached to one end of the container to block access to compartments
not in use. An aperture defined in the lid provides access to one
of the compartments. The aperture is selectively aligned with each
compartment as the lid is rotated relative to the container by an
advancing mechanism. A cutting device associated with the lid and
container severs the portion of a suture that extends beyond the
end of the container from a needle disposed in one of the compartments
by rotating the lid relative to the container.
Surgical needle claims
What is claimed is:
1. A surgical needle discard container for storing used surgical
a container having a plurality of separate compartments defined
therein, each compartment being sized so as to receive a surgical
a lid rotatably attached to one end of said container, said lid
having an aperture defined therein, said aperture being selectively
aligned with each of said compartments as said lid is rotated relative
to said container; and
a mechanism associated with said container and said lid, said mechanism
permitting incremental rotation of said lid relative to said container
in only one direction to selectively align said aperture with said
2. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 1 further
a cutting device, associated with said container and said lid,
said cutting device severing a portion of a suture that extends
beyond said end of said container from a needle disposed in one
of said compartments when said lid is rotated relative to said container.
3. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 2 wherein
said cutting device includes a first cutting surface provided along
an edge of said lid defining said aperture and a counter blade defined
by an edge of a divider that separates said compartments from one
4. A surgical needle storing device as defined in claim 1 wherein
said mechanism includes a first plurality of teeth disposed on one
of an inner peripheral surface of said lid and an outer peripheral
surface of said container, and at least one tooth disposed on the
other of said inner peripheral surface of said lid and said outer
peripheral surface of said container, said first plurality of teeth
being arranged in an opposing relation to said at least one tooth
so that said first plurality of teeth and said at least one tooth
engage each other to allow said incremental rotation of said lid
relative to said container in said one direction, and so that said
lid aperture is locked into alignment with one of said plurality
5. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 1 further
comprising a stopping member that prevents said lid from rotating
more than 360.degree..
6. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 1 wherein
said container is cylindrical shaped, wherein said plurality of
compartments are disposed in a circular orientation about a longitudinal
axis of said container, and wherein each compartment is separated
from an adjacent compartment by a divider.
7. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 1 wherein
at least a portion of said container is made from a material that
permits visualization of said needles disposed in each compartment.
8. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 1 further
comprising indicia identifying each of said compartments in sequential
order to facilitate counting of said needles disposed within each
9. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 1 further
comprising a lid cover that selectively closes said aperture.
10. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 9
wherein said lid cover comprises a substantially flat disc having
a lid cover aperture defined therein, said lid cover aperture aligning
with said aperture to permit access to one of said plurality of
compartments, said lid cover closing said aperture by moving said
lid cover relative to said lid so that a portion of said lid cover
overlies said aperture.
11. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 9
wherein said lid cover is rotatably attached to said lid so as to
selectively close said aperture by rotating said lid cover relative
to said lid such that a portion of said lid cover overlies said
12. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 11
wherein said lid cover is held in close proximity to said lid by
protrusions provided on an inside surface of said lid, said protrusions
engaging a peripheral portion of said lid cover.
13. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 11
further comprising a lid cover ratchet mechanism that permits incremental
rotation of said lid cover relative to said lid so that said lid
cover is maintained in position relative to said lid as said lid
rotates relative to said container.
14. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 1
further comprising at least one handle attached to said container.
15. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 14
further comprising protuberances provided on an outer peripheral
surface of said lid, said protuberances and said handle being disposed
on said lid and said container, respectively, so that a user is
capable of both gripping said container and rotating said lid relative
to said container using only one hand.
16. A surgical needle discard container as defined in claim 1
further comprising protuberances provided on an outer peripheral
surface of said lid to facilitate manual rotation of said lid relative
to said compartment.
17. A method for collecting used surgical needles in a device comprising
a plurality of compartments, the method characterized by the steps
dropping a needle through an aperture in a lid into a first compartment
having at least one transparent wall for visual inspection of the
rotatably advancing said lid through a predetermined amount to
cover said first compartment while simultaneously opening a second
severing a suture that extends through said aperture from the needle
that has been dropped into said first compartment simultaneously
with said step of covering said first compartment.
18. A device for collecting used surgical needles, the device comprising
a plurality of compartments, each having at least one transparent
wall, the device characterized by:
first means for permitting a needle to be inserted into a first
means for rotatably advancing through a predetermined distance
said first means, thereby covering said first compartment while
opening a second compartment; and
means for cutting a suture from the needle simultaneously while
said first means is advanced.
19. The device of claim 18 further comprising:
means rotatably advanceable through a predetermined distance for
selectivity covering said first means.
20. The device of claim 18 further comprising:
means for preventing said first means from rotating more than one
Surgical needle description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a device for safely storing used
surgical needles, and, in particular, to a multicompartment discard
container, wherein each used surgical needle is placed in a separate
compartment within the container, thereby permitting the used needles
to be easily counted while being safely contained and discarded.
2. Description of the Related Art
Surgical needles, which are used to insert a suture during surgery,
represent a serious danger to a patient if not removed from the
surgical cite. For example, if a needle is left in the patient,
it may perforate vital organs, cause infection, and even result
in death. Therefore, it is imperative that all surgical needles
are counted at the beginning of a surgical procedure and at the
end of the procedure.
Typically, the used needles are recounted several times to ensure
that each needle is accounted for, i.e., that none of the needles
are left in the patient. Because the used needles are repeatedly
counted, the used needles should be stored in a device that permits
A used surgical needle also represents a danger to the medical
personnel responsible for handling the needles. If a used needle
perforates the attendant's skin, that needle could transmit some
infectious diseases from the patient to the attendant by blood-to-blood
contact. Avoiding this problem requires storing the used needles
in a device that minimizes the chances of the used needle contacting
an individual. This is made difficult by the fact that used surgical
needles should remain visible so that an accurate count of the needles
can be made repeatedly.
One conventional needle counting device that attempts to achieve
these objectives consists of a flat, bar-shaped magnetic pad having
a plurality of sections identified thereon. After each needle is
used, the surgical assistant places the used needle on top of the
successively numbered portions of the magnetic pad so that an accurate
count of the used needles can be made at the end of the surgical
procedure. This conventional counting device, however, does not
adequately prevent individuals from being exposed to the used needles
because the needles remain unshielded when placed on the surface
of the magnetic pad. The ends of many needles extend beyond the
magnetic pad. The risk of exposure to the used needles is especially
great when the needles are ultimately disposed of.
In addition, because the used needles typically include a portion
of a suture attached thereto, the collection of needles and sutures
on an open pad can make this needle discarding system cumbersome,
and the indicia on the magnetic pad may be obscured thereby preventing
the number of used needles stored thereon from being quickly counted.
In addition, the sutures attached to the needles placed on the magnetic
pad can get snagged, pulled, etc., thereby displacing the used needles
from their proper position on the magnetic pad. To avoid these problems,
a separate cutting device, such as a pair of scissors, must be available
for cutting the excessive lengths of suture from the used needles
so that the used needles can be effectively stored on the magnetic
Another conventional discard device consists of a box with a sponge
or solid foam material provided at the bottom thereof. A plurality
of sections are identified on the sponge material so that the tip
of the used needles can be inserted into successive sections of
the sponge. This configuration permits an accurate count to be made
of the used needles. However, because all the used needles are inserted
into a sponge that is contained within the same box, this discard
device also does not adequately prevent the surgical assistant from
being exposed to injury from the used needles because the box is
not closed until the end of the operative procedure.
Furthermore, the lengths of suture attached to the used needles
can make accurately inserting the used needles into their proper
location even more difficult and dangerous, especially in an operating
room environment where situations may arise that require surgical
assistants to perform such tasks quite rapidly. In addition, the
suture attached to the needles can be inadvertently pulled causing
the needles to be pulled out of the sponge or can interfere with
the closing of the box. To cut the suture, a pair of scissors is
In an invasive surgical procedure, a substantial amount of blood
is present on the surgeons' and nurses' glove covered hands. Anything
that these personnel handle is covered with blood. Some procedures
become stressful when unforeseen circumstances arise. Small objects
like needles can easily become lost in the profuse field of blood.
So a device like a needle container should be easy to handle yet
safe, easy to operate yet provide a ready visual verification of
the number of needles contained therein.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is an object of the present invention to provide a discard container
for used surgical needles that overcomes the problems associated
with previously known surgical needle storage devices.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a discard
container that both 1) stores used surgical needles in a manner
that minimizes the risk of attendants being stuck by a needle and
2) facilitates quick, easy, and reliable counting of the used needles.
It is a still further object of the present invention to provide
a discard container that does not require a separate, supplemental
cutting device, such as a pair of scissors, for removing excess
lengths of suture from the used needle.
In accordance with the principles of the present invention, the
foregoing objects are achieved by providing a surgical needle discard
container that stores used surgical needles therein. The discard
container includes a container having a plurality of separate compartments
defined therein. Each compartment is sized so as to receive a surgical
needle therein. A lid is rotatably attached to one end of the container.
The lid has an aperture defined therein for providing selective
access to one of the plurality of compartments while blocking access
to the rest of the compartments. The aperture is individually aligned
with each compartment as the lid is rotated relative to the container.
A ratchet mechanism is provided with respect to the container and
lid to permit incremental rotation of the lid relative to the container
in only one direction so that the aperture is selectively aligned
with each compartment. In addition, the discard container includes
a cutting device associated with the container and the lid. The
cutting device severs the portion of the suture that extends out
of the end of the container from the needle disposed in one of the
compartments when the lid is rotated relative to the container.
As will become apparent from the detailed description below, the
present invention solves the above-identified problems with conventional
surgical needle discard devices by sealing each used surgical needle
in its own compartment so that they are not a source of danger to
the medical personnel. By rotating the lid, no more than substantially
one full turn, each needle is captured in its own individual compartment
and the excess length of suture is removed therefrom. At the end
of the surgical procedure, the needles can be quickly, accurately,
and safely counted by visualizing each needle in its own compartment.
The compartments may be numbered to facilitate counting. The entire
discard container can then be discarded.
Other objects, features and characteristics of the present invention
as well as the methods of operation and function of the related
elements of structure, and the combination of parts and economies
of manufacture, will become more apparent upon consideration of
the following detailed description and the appended claims with
reference to the accompanying drawings, all of which form a part
of this specification, wherein like reference numerals designate
corresponding parts in the various figures.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a first embodiment of
the used needle storage device of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a top view of the lid of the needle discard container
illustrated in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the lid used in the needle discard container
illustrated in FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a partial cross-sectional view of the needle discard
container illustrated in FIG. 6 taken along line 4--4;
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the lid illustrated in FIG.
3 taken along line 5--5; and
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the assembled needle discard container.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
FIGS. 1 and 6 illustrate a surgical needle discard container, generally
indicated at 30 according to the principles of the present invention.
Discard container 30 includes a container 32 a lid 34 a lid cover
36 and a handle 44. Container 32 is generally cylindrical and divided
into a plurality of circumferentially arranged, wedge-shaped, compartments
38 around a central hub 40. Central hub 40 is aligned with a longitudinal
axis 41 of container 32. A plurality of spoke-like dividers 42 radiate
from central hub 40 to an outer wall of cylindrical container 32
to define compartments 38. Dividers 42 extend the full height of
cylindrical container 32 so as to isolate each compartment 38 from
an adjacent compartment. The dividing walls 42 should be made of
a material that enhances counting and visualization of needles.
In the illustrated embodiment, compartments 38 are sized so as to
easily accommodate a surgical needle 39 having a variety of different
shapes and sizes therein.
Container 32 can be made from a variety of materials. However,
in the illustrated embodiment, container 32 is made from a material
that permits visualization of the contents of each compartment 38
so that one can quickly verify that a needle has been placed in
a compartment. An example of a suitable material is clear plastic.
A plurality of indicia 46 are provided around the perimeter of
container 32 to identify each compartment 38. In an exemplary embodiment
of the present invention, indicia 46 are integral with the container,
defined during molding, for economies of manufacture. Permitting
visual inspection of the needles discarded in each compartment of
container 32 and providing indicia 46 enable the number of needles
used during an operation to be easily counted and recounted without
exposing the user to the needles.
Lid 34 is rotatably attached to container 32. Details of lid 34
are shown in FIGS. 2 3 4 and 5. In the illustrated embodiment,
lid 34 includes an inwardly extending circumferential lip 48 around
a lower portion thereof. Lip 48 engages a circumferentially concave
groove 50 provided around the perimeter of container 32 so that
lid 34 snaps onto container 32 and can be rotated relative thereto.
Lip 48 and groove 50 are sized and shaped so that once lid 34 is
attached to container 32 lid 34 cannot be easily removed therefrom.
It is to be understood, however, that lid 34 can be attached to
container 32 in a variety of different ways so long as lid 34 is
rotatable relative to container 32. By attaching lid 34 in the manner
illustrated, however, lid 34 can be removed from container 32 and
replaced thereon without damaging either lid 34 or container 32
should the need arise.
Lid 34 includes an aperture 52 defined therein. Aperture 52 is
sized and shaped so as to substantially correspond to the shape
of the compartment 38 when viewed from the top of the container.
Lid 34 is positioned on the end of container 32 such that aperture
52 aligns with one of the compartments 38 thereby providing access
to that compartment while access to the other compartments is blocked
by the remaining portions of lid 34. As lid 34 rotates in a direction,
such as that indicated by arrow A, aperture 52 is sequentially aligned
with each individual compartment 38. A used surgical needle is then
placed in the compartment to which access is provided. Lid 34 is
then further rotated relative to container 32 to provide access
to the next adjacent compartment while blocking access to the preceding
compartment in which the used needle is now located. Thus, the used
needles are safely, individually stored in separate compartments
in discard container 30. Thereafter, the entire discard container,
including the surgical needles disposed therein, can be easily and
safely disposed of without exposing the user to the used needles.
Discard container 30 includes a mechanism that permits incremental
rotation of lid 34 relative to container 32 so that aperture 52
is maintained in an aligned relationship with one of the compartments
at a time. Each incremental rotation of lid 34 places lid 34 into
an aligned relationship with the next subsequent compartment. This
mechanism also permits lid 34 to be rotated relative to container
32 in only one direction so that once a needle has been placed in
a compartment, lid 34 can not be rotated backward, thereby locking
needle 39 within a compartment.
In the illustrated embodiment this mechanism is a ratchet. The
ratchet includes a plurality of ratchet teeth 54 circumferentially
provided on an inside surface of lid 34. Each tooth 54 is essentially
an elongated, raised protuberance on the surface of lid 34 and includes
an inclined leading edge. At least one ratchet tooth 56 is also
provided on the outer surface of container 32. The ratchet teeth
54 on the inside lid 34 are oriented to engage and pass over ratchet
tooth 56 shown in FIG. 1 when lid 34 is properly positioned on container
32. Ratchet teeth 54 are sized and spaced relative to one another
so that tooth 56 is firmly held between two adjacent ratchet teeth
When lid 34 is rotated relative to container 32 the inclined surfaces
of ratchet teeth 54 and 56 engage and produce a slight lifting effect
whereby as one of the teeth 54 pass over ratchet tooth 56 so that
ratchet tooth 56 is again adjacent to the next ratchet teeth 54.
This arrangement of ratchet teeth 54 and 56 allows incremental rotation
of lid 34 relative to container 32 assists in aligning aperture
52 over each compartment 38 and locks lid 34 in position until
the next incremental rotation is required. The ratchet teeth size
and spacing therebetween are selected so that aperture 52 is individually
registered with each compartment during the rotation of lid 34 relative
to container 32.
It is to be understood that the ratchet mechanism illustrated in
the drawings is provided for purposes of illustration and may not
be to scale. It is to be further understood that other sizes, shapes,
and orientations, of the ratchet teeth are contemplated by the present
invention. For example, while the ratchet mechanism has been illustrated
with a plurality of teeth provided on lid 34 and a single tooth
provided on container 32 this arrangement can be reversed.
The ratchet mechanism of the present invention includes a stopping
member 58 shown in FIG. 3 that prevents lid 34 from being rotated
greater than one full turn. This prevents additional used needles
from being inserted into occupied compartments once each compartment
has been filled. In the illustrated embodiment, stopping member
58 is formed by providing the last ratchet tooth from among ratchet
teeth 54 with an abrupt leading edge 59. The last ratchet tooth
58 is that tooth, from among ratchet teeth 54 that is the last
to engage tooth 56 before engagement between ratchet teeth 54 and
tooth 56 could otherwise be repeated. In FIG. 3 stopping member
58 is at the leading edge of lid aperture 52. Prior to rotation
of lid 34 stopping member 58 is aligned between the first and second
compartments when lid 34 is attached to container 32 and aperture
52 is aligned with the first compartment. As lid 34 rotates counterclockwise
relative to container 32 aperture 52 aligns with each compartment.
When aperture 52 aligns with the last compartment, stopping member
58 is adjacent tooth 56 which is positioned proximate to the first
compartment. The flat leading edge 59 of the stopping member 58
significantly impedes stopping member 58 from overriding ratchet
tooth 56 on container 32 so that aperture 52 cannot be easily rotated
from registration with the last compartment to the initial (first)
It is to be understood that other mechanisms for preventing greater
that one full rotation of lid 34 are contemplated by the present
invention. For example, lid 34 and/or container 32 can include a
protruding member or protruding members that engage one another
after one complete rotation of lid 34 thereby preventing additional
Although not illustrated in the present figures, hub 40 can be
elevated and lid 34 provided with a recess 60 (FIG. 3) to receive
the elevated hub therein when lid 34 is attached to container 32.
This arrangement between the elevated hub and the recess in lid
34 acts as a stabilizer to prevent excess lateral movement between
lid 34 and container 32. This arrangement provides accurate concentric
alignment between rotating lid 34 and the elevated hub so that accurate
alignment of compartments 38 in container 32 with aperture 52 in
lid 34 can be achieved.
In the illustrated embodiment, lid 34 includes thumb grips 62 provided
on an outer peripheral surface thereof. Thumb grips 62 facilitate
manual rotation of lid 34 relative to container 32 by providing
grips which an attendant's thumb can push against to advance lid
34. Providing thumb grips 62 and handle 44 permit the surgical assistant
to hold discard container 30 and rotate lid 34 relative to container
32 at the same time using the same hand by inserting the fingers
in handle 44 and using the thumb to rotate lid 34. While thumb grips
62 have been illustrated and described in conjunction with lid 34
it is to be understood that a variety of different configurations
for the outer peripheral surface of lid 34 are possible to facilitate
rotation. Knurling the outer peripheral surface of lid 34 is an
example of such an alternative configuration.
Lid cover 36 is provided for selectively blocking aperture 52 in
lid 34. In the illustrated embodiment, lid cover 36 comprises a
substantially flat disc having a lid cover aperture 64 defined therein.
Lid cover aperture 64 like aperture 52 has a size and shape that
substantially matches the size and shape compartment 38 when viewed
from the top of the container. In the illustrated embodiment, lid
cover 36 is rotatably attached to lid 34 and lid cover aperture
64 is aligned directly over aperture 52 to permit the used needles
to pass through both apertures 64 and 52 into compartments 38. Lid
cover 36 selectively closes aperture 52 by rotating lid cover 36
relative to lid 34 such that a portion of lid cover 36 overlies
Lid cover 36 is held in close proximity to lid 34 by protrusions
66 circumferentially provided on an inside surface of lid 34. Lid
cover 36 is sized and shaped so as to be capable of being snapped
into position within lid 34 so that protrusions 66 engage a peripheral
portion of lid cover 36. The lid cover, once snapped below protrusions
66 cannot be removed as protrusions 66 have a flat lower surface
on a bottom portion thereof. The flat lower surfaces of protrusions
66 spaced far enough away from the top flat surface of lid 34 permit
lid cover 36 to rotate relative to lid 34. To facilitate its rotation,
lid cover 36 includes an elevated handle 68 on a top surface thereof.
A lid cover ratchet mechanism permits incremental clockwise rotation
of lid cover 36 relative to lid 34 so that lid cover 36 is maintained
in position relative to lid 34 as lid 34 rotates relative to container
32. In addition, once lid cover 36 is rotated, the ratchet mechanism
prevents it from rotating counterclockwise.
In the illustrated embodiment, the lid cover ratchet mechanism
comprises a plurality of teeth 70 circumferentially provided on
an insider surface of lid 34. Teeth 70 engage slots 72 circumferentially
provided on the outer periphery of lid cover 36. Teeth 70 like
teeth 54 have a slanted leading surface.
While lid cover 36 has been described above with respect to the
device illustrated in the figures, it is to be understood that the
lid cover can have a variety of different configurations so long
at it serves to selectively close aperture 52. For example, lid
cover 36 can be rotatable in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise
direction. In addition, lid cover 36 need not be rotatably attached
to lid 34 but instead, can be a cap that is provided over lid 34
following the completion of the surgical procedure. It is to be
understood that other configurations for teeth 70 and slots 72 are
A used surgical needle typically includes a suture 74 still attached
thereto. See FIGS. 4 and 6. As a result, when needle 39 is dropped
in compartment 38 of container 32 a portion of suture 74 can extend
beyond the end of container 32. The excess portion of suture 74
can interfere with the proper operation of discard container 30
and may get snagged. Thus, the present invention includes a cutting
device associated with container 32 and lid 34. The cutting device
severs the portion of the suture that extends out of the container
from the needle in the compartment by rotating the lid relative
to the container. In the illustrated embodiment, the cutting device
comprises a first cutting blade 76 provided along an edge of the
lid defining aperture 52. A second cutting blade 78 or counter blade,
opposing the first cutting blade is provided along an edge of each
divider 42. Rotating lid 34 relative to container 32 causes first
cutting blade 76 to move toward second cutting blade 78 in a scissor-like
fashion so as to cut the portion of suture 74 that extends beyond
the end of container 32 away from needle 39 disposed in compartment
38. This cutting operation is automatically performed each time
the lid is rotated so that additional cutting devices are not required.
It is to be understood that only one cutting blade need be employed
in the present invention. If only one cutting blade is used, for
example on the edge of the lid defining aperture 52 the other surface
on the divider prevents the suture from moving so that the cutting
blade can sever the suture from the needle.
While the invention has been described in connection with what
is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments,
it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to
the disclosed embodiment, but on the contrary, is intended to cover
various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within
the spirit and scope of the appended claims.