A safer way to handle surgical scalpel blades

March 7, 2018, Georgia Institute of Technology
InVenture Prize finalist Scal-Pal redesigned surgical blade packages so they’re easier and safer to use. The inventors are biomedical engineering majors: Rachel Mann, Bailey Klee, Sydney Platt and Nicholas Quan. Credit: Allison Carter

When tasked with redesigning a medical device, four biomedical engineering majors focused their attention on scalpels. Specifically, the blade packaging for the tool.

Their packaging was designed to protect from that can occur when handling exposed scalpel blades.

Now their invention, Scal-Pal, is one of six competing for Georgia Tech's InVenture Prize, an annual innovation competition. The winner will be chosen March 14.

Currently doctors and nurses must handle the blade with their fingers to remove it or attach a new one to the scalpel handle. The foil packaging around a fresh blade is opened like an adhesive bandage. One person opens the packaging, while a second person grabs the exposed blade with needle holders and inserts it into the scalpel handle.

"It's easy for accidents to happen because the forces the blade to be exposed," said Alpharetta native Bailey Klee. "I was job shadowing in an operating room and I saw a nurse take off the blade and cut herself. We found a way to prevent that from happening again."

Scal-Pal works much the same way as switching out razor blades. The blade is stored inside a single-use box made from pre-recycled polyethylene, akin to the plastic used in milk jugs. The scalpel handle is inserted into the box and the blade is attached. To remove the used blade, the scalpel is inserted back into the box and the blade is released from the handle and trapped inside. The entire box is then thrown away.

The team 3-D printed the pink and black box in the BME Machine Shop.

"Our design works because the blade is never exposed," said Sydney Platt, who is from Lake Jackson, Texas. "No one has to touch it directly."

"There is a market and a need for what we developed," added Nicholas Quan from Richmond Hill, Ga.

Hospitals spend more than $116 million a year on scalpel related injuries, reported Rachel Mann, a native of Homer Glen, Ill. Those same hospitals use more than 1 million scalpel blades a day.

"We need to gain exposure with manufacturers," Mann said. "We're hopeful the InVenture Prize will help make that happen."

Explore further: How to get that perfect shave

Related Stories

How to get that perfect shave

February 26, 2018
(HealthDay)—Guys, a perfect shave may be more about preparation and technique than the actual razor.

From blue and black dresses to turbine blades—here's the science of 'fake fake' photographs

May 25, 2017
Whether it's a blue and black dress - or white and gold depending on your take - or a pair of legs streaked with white paint, eagle-eyed viewers are always keen to debate a visual illusion when these puzzling images appear ...

Scientist developed 3-D scans of beetles for Blade Runner 2049

February 28, 2018
BUF, one of the main visual effects companies behind Blade Runner 2049, sought the collaboration of Javier Alba-Tercedor, a Professor of Zoology at the University of Granada, to obtain scans of different species of beetles ...

Measuring on ice: Researchers create 'smart' ice skating blade

October 20, 2014
An ice skating blade that informs figure skaters of the stresses they are imposing on their joints has been developed by a group of researchers in the US.

Recommended for you

First major study comparing robotic to open surgery published in The Lancet

June 21, 2018
The first comprehensive study comparing the outcomes of robotic surgery to those of traditional open surgery in any organ has found that the surgeries are equally effective in treating bladder cancer. The seven-year study, ...

Antibodies may predict transplant rejection risk

June 19, 2018
The presence of certain antibodies in patients may suggest a higher risk of transplant rejection across multiple organ types, including the kidney, liver, heart and lungs, according to a new study published in PLOS Medicine.

First human test of robotic eye surgery a success

June 18, 2018
Researchers from the University of Oxford have completed the first successful trial of robot-assisted retinal surgery.

Surgical blood transfusions tied to clot risk

June 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Blood transfusions around the time of surgery may raise your risk for dangerous blood clots, researchers say.

Tonsil and adenoid removal associated with respiratory, allergic and infectious disease

June 7, 2018
Tonsil and adenoid removal associated with long-term risks of respiratory, allergic and infectious diseases Removing tonsils and adenoids in childhood increases the long-term risk of respiratory, allergic and infectious diseases, ...

Clues found to early lung transplant failure

May 21, 2018
Among organ transplant patients, those receiving new lungs face a higher rate of organ failure and death compared with people undergoing heart, kidney and liver transplants. One of the culprits is inflammation that damages ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.