April 13, 2024

Medical Tubing: The Backbone of Modern Clinical Practices, Enabling Seamless Fluid Management and Patient Care

Medical Tubing

Medical tubing forms an essential part of medical devices and equipment used for healthcare delivery. Various types of tubing are used to transfer fluids, gases or assist in medical procedures within the human body. They provide connectivity between medical devices and patients. Let’s understand some key aspects of medical tubing.

Types of medical tubing
There are several types of tubing used in the medical industry depending on the application and materials required. Some common types include:

PVC tubing
PVC or polyvinyl chloride tubing is one of the most widely used types due to its flexibility, low cost and chemical resistance. It is used for basic fluid transfer applications like IV lines, feeding tubes etc. PVC tubing is available in various dimensions and forms like coil tubing, molded tubing etc.

Silicone tubing
Silicone tubing has high flexibility even at low temperatures. It is highly biocompatible making it suitable for applications inside the body. Silicone tubing is used for catheters, ostomy, feeding and oxygen supply lines. The inner surface of silicone tubing is non-reactive to body fluids and medicines passed through it.

Polyolefin tubing
Polyolefins like polyethylene or polypropylene provide durability and kink resistance making polyolefin tubing suitable for applications requiring repeated flexing. It finds usage in biopsy devices, suction canisters and other devices. The non-reactive property of polyolefins ensures chemical compatibility with fluids.

PBI tubing
PBI or polybenzimidazole tubing has high heat resistance up to 400 degree Fahrenheit. It is used for exhaust lines in medical equipment handling high temperatures and for oxygen supply lines inside oxygen concentrators. PBI tubing withstands heat and pressure generated during the oxygen generation process.

TPE tubing
Thermoplastic elastomers or TPE tubing contains both plastic and rubber-like properties. It provides flexibility and comfort for invasive medical procedures. TPE tubing is used in components of ventilator and anesthesia circuits where kink-resistance and flexibility is required.

Manufacturing process
Medical tubing goes through stringent processes to ensure quality, precision and biocompatibility. Here are the basic steps involved:

– Raw material selection and compounding: Medical-grade polymers are carefully selected and compounded to achieve required properties. Additives may be added for plasticizing or lubrication.

– Extrusion: The compounded material is fed into an extruder where it is melted and forced through a die to form a continuous tube.

– Sizing and cooling: As the extruded tube exits the die, it is rapidly cooled and drawn to the desired outer diameter and wall thickness.

– Printing and coding: Tubing often needs to be printed or laser coded for product identification and tracing. This helps in maintaining production records.

– Sterilization: Tubing undergoes sterilization either by ethylene oxide, gamma irradiation or autoclaving to kill any microbes and make it suitable for medical use.

– Inspection and packaging: Various quality checks are conducted before tightly rolling the sterile tubing on reels or coiling for shipping and use.

Key properties
For effective usage in healthcare, medical tubing must demonstrate certain key properties:

– Biocompatibility: Tubing material should not cause any adverse tissue reactions when in contact with body fluids or implanted.

– Flexibility: Tubing needs to flex easily for handling and to pass through small pathways like catheters, endoscopes without kinking.

– Durability: Flex life is an important measure of durability. Medical tubing endures repeated flexing during usage and sterilization cycles.

– Barrier effectiveness: Some tubing prevents transfer of gases like oxygen or acts as a barrier to fluid ingress crucial for applications like dialysis.

– Chemical resistance: Tubing must not react with chemicals, solvents, drugs, body fluids, and disinfecting/sterilizing agents used during manufacture and use.

– Non-thrombogenicity: For invasive procedures, tubing must not promote blood clot formation or thrombus.

– Precision: Tubing dimensions like diameter, wall thickness need to beprecisely controlled for specific applications and connections.

From basic fluid transfer to delivery of life-saving therapies, medical tubing caters to diverse healthcare needs. Here are some key areas where tubing is indispensable:

– IV/Irrigation lines: Transfer liquids like saline, drugs, nutrients for IV or irrigation therapies.

– Endoscopy/catheters: Provides pathways for insertion of scopes, catheters into body for surgical interventions or draining fluids.

– Dialysis: Hemodialysis tubing helps remove toxins from blood outside body during dialysis therapy.

– Respiratory devices: Conducts oxygen, anesthetic gases or allows suction and mucus transport in equipment like ventilators, anesthesia machines, nebulizers.

– Implants/prosthetics: Components like cardiac leads, vascular grafts utilize biomedical tubing providing physiological support.

– Enteral nutrition: Tubing like NG tubes, G tubes facilitate delivery of nutrients, medicines directly into GI tract or stomach.

Medical tubing acts as the lifeline connecting patients to essential healthcare therapies and medical devices. Advances in materials and manufacturing continues to expand the frontiers of healthcare delivery through novel applications of tubing. Biocompatibility, precision and reliability remain cornerstones of medical tubing quality for trusted performance.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it