The Growing Need for Cataract Instruments

The Situation with Sterilization.

Surgical procedures, in general, require a lot of instrumentation to be sterilized in preparation for surgery. Like all specialties in surgery, ophthalmology requires very specific instrumentation. When we are talking about ‘cataract instruments’, we are talking about the ophthalmic instruments (cataract tray), the phaco handpiece, and IOL insertion devices.

One notable difference that makes cataract instruments different is their size and fragility. But this is just one “small” part (no pun intended) of the cataract instrument situation that needs to be thought about to make the surgery day a success. What about volume? How many sets do you need to make the day go smoothly? The truth is (with changes to sterilization standards in the last 15 years), it seems that the required amount of instrumentation for a typical eye day is growing and growing. Let’s dissect the reasons why this is such a big issue, and how Surgical Direct can help in this area.

So, why do you need so many Cataract Instruments? 


1) Case Volume & Speed

In 2015, Review of Ophthalmology published an article that says that the national average of cataract case volume per surgeon in the United States is about 400 cataract cases per year. Some obviously would land higher than that, some lower of course. But if we take that average, it equals approximately 7 cases per week.

Let’s just say your surgeon brings an average of 7 cases to your facility on a surgery day, with an average case time of 20min. That’s an average of 3 cases per hour. If your surgeon falls into the “quick” category, this number can go up. Keep in mind that it’s best practice to have a backup set sterile and ready in case an instrument is dropped or contaminated. So that gives us a total of 4 sets of cataract instruments needed per hour of surgery. And saying that actually feels modest.

2) Modern Sterilization Times

Next, we have to factor in how long it takes to sterilize cataract instruments. Using the most up-to-date sterilization standards, a facility needs 45min-1hr of process time for instruments to be sterilized (which has increased substantially in the last 15 years with stricter state and medical governing body regulations). What used to take 15min, now will take 1hr, which means that the first set of cataract instruments used that day will not be ready to be reused until 1.5 hours after the first case starts. It’s also interesting to note that average case times per surgeon are getting faster due to the latest technology, which is increasing the surgeon’s efficiency intra-op. This makes for an interesting dilemma.

3) Standard & Specialty Instruments 

Every surgeon has their preferred instruments. Cataract surgery does not have too many varying methods. For the most part, every surgeon will perform the surgery using the same primary steps. However, this does not signify that every surgeon will use the same instruments. Many surgeons will use different instrumentation than another surgeon to perform the same surgical step. This means that if you have more than one surgeon operating in your facility, your instrumentation will need to increase. Of course, some surgeons will have added steps based on their surgical preference, also increasing needed instrumentation.

Then there is the issue of backup or specialty instruments that are only needed in special situations. It’s important to have multiples of these in order to cover all possible scenarios and not be stuck waiting for sterilization to move forward with the day.

4) The Impending Baby-Boomers 

Another layer to think about in this area is that we are on the cusp of the baby-boomer generation becoming within the average age of cataract development. Why does this matter? The numbers listed above in point #1 are numbers taken in 2015. Each year, the average cataract surgeon will take on more cases just to handle the demand, and it’s only going to increase as the baby boomers develop cataracts and need surgery. This means that the need for more instrumentation will only be inevitable in the coming years.

To sum up, it’s a very complex situation that requires a lot of instruments and attention to detail to pull off a smooth cataract day. By now you are probably trying to factor how much it’s going to cost in purchasing instruments and phaco handpieces to keep up with the demand. Before you invest, consider Surgical Direct’s Mobile Cataract Services.

Surgical Direct Inc provides the latest cataract technology to your facility for $0 of capital investment.

We provide tailored equipment and supply lists for the surgeon’s specific needs, including the desire to try new technology as it comes out. We are able to help with instrumentation demands (both in cataract instruments and phaco handpieces). With Surgical Direct, you get a safer, more efficient cataract experience in your facility. Don’t believe us? Read through our testimonials to see what our customers are saying about our services.

Interested in learning more about what we offer? Visit our Mobile Cataract Services page to find out more about what we do. Have a more pressing question or need? Call us directly at 1-800-346-0544.

Want to experience our services first hand for FREE? Request a Surgical Direct FREE DEMO DAY.

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