When you think about advances in medicine, you might understandably picture talented surgeons performing amazing procedures on patients, and new medications that can help save lives by treating serious diseases.
While these are great examples, there are a number of other aspects to medicine that, at first blush, might seem to be somewhat minor but can really make the difference between life and death.
Take, for example, the use of rubber in the medical field. Just like with aerospace applications, rubber components used in medicine can result in either a successful outcome or a catastrophic failure.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways that rubber is used in the medical industry every day, and how it is helping to improve the lives of many people.
When a medical professional needs to insert a catheter in a patient, for example, to help drain urine from the bladder, he or she can use a straight catheter or one that is made from rubber. As Home Care Delivered notes, red rubber catheters function like a straight model, but they are made from red rubber latex instead of plastic. This makes for a more flexible catheter, which some people prefer because it can be more comfortable.
The pacemaker has evolved over the years and is now made up of a standard hermetic package that has cables and plugs running from it, reports Science Direct. The outer coating of the pacemaker is usually made from silicone rubber; polyurethane is also sometimes used. As you can imagine, the coating of the pacemaker must be very strong and able to stand up to being placed inside the body, so tough yet flexible rubber is an ideal choice.
Drug Delivery Systems
Drug delivery devices also rely on rubber to work correctly and properly; for instance, o-rings in these medical devices can help to create a vacuum seal that is necessary for the medicine to be properly administered. As Apple Rubber notes, they are partners in seal design in a number of industries, including medical devices. The company offers a huge inventory of o-rings in a wide range of sizes; these are not only used in drug delivery devices but also respiratory equipment and a number of other types of medical equipment like pumps, valves, and other applications.
Masks and Gloves
Rubber is used to make different types of masks used in medicine. For instance, the oxygen mask uses both natural and silicone rubber; this type of mask requires a very tight seal, and rubber helps achieve this goal, especially when used on patients who require administration of pure oxygen. Rubber is also part of the ubiquitous but very necessary surgical gloves. They are made from synthetic rubber along with latex from natural rubber. Rubber allows the gloves to be strong yet flexible, sensitive and offer protection from germs and other hazardous substances.
Rubber Is a Key Component to Medical Industry
While it may be easy to take rubber for granted in the medical industry, this should never be the case. Both natural and synthetic forms of rubber are vital parts to a number of medical devices, thanks in large part to rubber’s reliability, flexibility, and strength, as well as its resistance to chemicals, sterilizers, bodily fluids and more.