Cabling in Medical Devices

September 13, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

When we think of cabling, we usually think of data and communications and networking, but there are all types of industries and applications that use cabling. The medical field is one of those industries that is increasingly using technology in medical devices, and wiring and cabling have been a large component in the growth of those technological advancements.

 

There are many medical devices that are dependent on interconnect components such as cabling, but unlike cabling used for a communications network, the requirements for medical device cables are somewhat unique. Medical devices cables must be extremely flexible and withstand repeated flexing. They also have to meet stringent regulated safety guidelines that vary depending on what type of device the cable will be used in and how/if it will come in contact with the patient. In addition to constant flexing and safety requirements, these cables also must be able to withstand constant sterilization processes, which include autoclave, gamma and exposure to chemicals and solvents.  

 

Another challenge of medical device cabling is keeping up with devices as they get smaller. For example, MRI machines now fit into a single room, ultrasound machines are now portable on mobile carts and consumer medical devices are handheld. The miniaturization of medical devices has many benefits including increased mobility and diagnostic capabilities, lower power requirements and less distance from the patient. Plus, the miniaturization of cables in these devices results in less cabling weight which makes maneuvering the cables around the patient easier. It also allows for greater flexibility since cabling with a smaller diameter can be tightly bent and still retain the recommended minimum bend radius.

 

Some of the most important cable factors to consider when it comes to cabling in medical devices are reliability, cable jacket, mating design and connector type. When it comes to people’s health, the reliability of a cable can be the difference between life and death. If cables are working properly or the connections aren’t reliable, devices can malfunction and that can cause great harm. With that in mind, cable connectors have to be properly mated, which can be made easier with the use of color-coding or keyed connectors. Plus, cables with alternative contact designs, such as hyperboloid, are good solutions to avoid issues with contact design, and plug-and-play connectors simplify the task of connecting different pieces of equipment. Lastly, selecting the proper cable jacket, whether it needs to be flexible, insulated or able to withstand a corrosive environment is critical to the overall operation of any cable.

 

The medical industry can be a demanding environment for cabling, and there are many requirements to consider, but as this is an industry with technology that is constantly advancing, and so will the need for cables. 

 

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