Current gynecological specula on the market are not optimal. They do not adequately open the vaginas of obese women and can be uncomfortable for all women. These specula lack lateral support for the vaginal sidewalls, and allow them to collapse inward during examination, obstructing the view of the cervix. Existing specula can pinch, so the practitioner must use it skillfully to prevent patient discomfort. Few specula open incrementally, a feature that facilitates universal use. Additionally, reusable specula are the most common, but they are expensive to buy and to sterilize. The medical market demands an inexpensive, disposable and comfortable speculum that is effective for all women. Existing specula provided the starting point for a new and innovative design. The most common disposable speculum is the Welch-Allyn. It has incremental opening and is operable with one hand, but it does not retain the vaginal sidewalls, making it useless when examining obese women. Non-disposable specula are widespread and are usually made of uncomfortably cold stainless steel. Using information from patients, the project sponsor, pediatric gynecologist Dr. Estheranne Grace, and from preliminary concept drawings from Children's Hospital, the design team came up with two speculum designs. The most important other factor that affected speculum design was material selection. Testing was also performed to learn about speculum operation forces, internal vaginal pressure, and stress concentrations. These two new designs combine the best features in existing specula with new and innovative components, and the better of these two was prototyped. The new speculum is easy to operate, comfortable, and usable on obese women.
gynecological specula, obese women
Northeastern University, Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Barra, Matt; Berger, Randy; Finlay, Caroline; Gallagher, Brian; Tully, Dan; and Waclawik, Elizabeth, "Gynecological Speculum for Obese Women" (2007). Capstone Design Program: Mechanical Engineering. Paper 62. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d10011626
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