Knives offer diamond sharpness in single-use package

September 15, 2008

A line of single-use, silicon surgical knives (BD Atomic Edge Safety Knives, BD Medical-Ophthalmic Systems) offers benefits for patients, ophthalmologists, and health-care workers.

Key Points

Salt Lake City-A line of single-use, silicon surgical knives (BD Atomic Edge Safety Knives, BD Medical-Ophthalmic Systems) offers benefits for patients, ophthalmologists, and health-care workers, according to Randall J. Olson, MD, professor and chairman, John A. Moran Eye Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

Patients benefit by having procedures performed with a single-use knife, ophthalmologists appreciate working with a silicon blade that rivals a diamond blade for sharpness, and all health-care workers benefit from the blades' innovative sharps protection features, Dr. Olson said.

Dr. Olson, who was involved in the development of the knives, recommends them for several reasons.

"As with other single-use blades, you always get an absolute sharpness, and you don't need to worry about any build-up or autoclaving issues such as toxic anterior segment syndrome," he said. Dr. Olson noted that there is increasing pressure to use single-use blades from an infectious disease standpoint, and single-use blades are now the standard in France.

"In France, it's now the mandate that anything that touches the eye is used once and discarded. Their entire cataract package, for example, is single-use. Although that has not been the case in the United States yet, interest in single-use is certainly growing," he said.

The feel of the single-use silicon blades is another advantage, according to Dr. Olson. He said he has always liked the sharpness and feel of a diamond blade and that it just is not possible to get a steel blade as sharp as a good diamond blade. The silicon blade can be sharpened to have the handling and feel of diamond without the cost, he added.

"That eliminates one reason not to use a single-use blade," Dr. Olson said. "The fact that a diamond simply is much sharper than steel was a legitimate concern for some, but the silicon blade has much of the feel and sharpness of diamond. I have also found that the silicon blade offers a little bit of tactile feedback, which is a plus for surgeons who like the 'sense' that a steel blade gives them, and who may feel that a diamond blade doesn't offer any tactile feedback at all."

Safety factor

Innovative sharps protection is another benefit to the silicon knives, he said. All of the knives in the line are equipped with a safety shield designed to eliminate sharps injuries.

"The safety shield on these knives, when used as indicated, means sharps injuries can be completely avoided," Dr. Olson said. "The knife is handed to the surgeon with the safety shield in place, and it only comes off under the microscope. Then, as soon as the knife has been used, it takes literally a fraction of a second to engage the shield.

"Surgeons who have had a long career like I've had have probably had a sharps injury. Personnel who work with surgeons, such as scrub techs, average a sharps injury every 7 years," Dr. Olson said. "Each one is potentially life-threatening and very difficult to go through on a personal level. It's an avoidable problem, and these knives do their part to help protect ophthalmologists and our co-workers."

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