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The Kerrison Rongeur: Highlighting the Critical Connection between Anatomy and Sterile Processing

[Don't miss Ep 1 of our new video mini-series on our YouTube channel entitled, "Edu-Kerrison: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Kerrison Rongeurs" with Kerrison Rongeur Expert Series™ member Alex Ebner]

two men and kerrison rongeurs

In the realm of Sterile Processing, understanding the tools of the trade is paramount. One such device, the Kerrison Rongeur, has a crucial role to play in surgical procedures and its relationship to the human anatomy is fundamental. In a launch of a new Beyond Clean mini-series, host Hank Balch spoke to expert Alex Ebner to shine a light on the importance of Kerrisons, their functions, and the significance of anatomy knowledge in their usage and maintenance.

As we learned in the interview, Kerrison Rongeurs are typically used in various surgical procedures, especially those involving the spine. These tools are tasked with the critical function of removing bone or soft tissue during surgeries. Their operation mirrors that of a sliding cutting shaft into a footplate, designed to cut tissue in a process reminiscent of a mouse gnawing on food, hence the term "rongeur" which is a French word referring to a gnawing mouse.

Kerrisons are used across a spectrum of spinal procedures, from neck and scoliosis surgeries to posterior lumbar operations. During these procedures, they are used to perform vital functions, such as laminectomies and foraminotomies. For instance, during a laminectomy, Kerrisons are used to relieve pressure on the spinal cord by removing parts of the lamina, thereby relieving the patient's pain.

Similarly, during a foraminotomy, a Kerrison is employed to alleviate pressure on nerve roots. These are some of the core procedures where Kerrisons' utility in the hands of the surgeons is unrivaled, underscoring the importance of the instrument's relation to human anatomy.

The critical nature of these instruments extends beyond their surgical role. Alex Ebner emphasized that the functionality and maintenance of Kerrisons could significantly impact the efficiency and outcome of a surgery. Should a Kerrison become jammed, stick, or become dull, it could result in a scenario where the tool merely nibbles at the tissue, rather than cutting through it. This ineffective performance can prolong surgery, increase patient risk, and place more stress on the surgical team.

Therefore, the responsibility of maintaining these instruments in their optimal condition falls onto the Sterile Processing Department. Sterile Processing professionals are tasked with ensuring the proper inspection, cleaning, and maintenance of Kerrisons. This includes checking the sharpness, ensuring smooth movement, and overall integrity of the tool.

Understanding the anatomy plays a pivotal role in the maintenance process. Knowing where and how the Kerrison is used can provide valuable insights into areas of the tool more susceptible to wear and tear. This knowledge base can help guide the processes for sterilization and maintenance, thereby ensuring the tool's longevity and reliability in the OR.

The conversation between Hank Balch and Alex Ebner provides a comprehensive overview of the Kerrison Rongeur's importance and the crucial role it plays in surgical procedures. As sterile processing professionals, understanding the Kerrison's relationship with anatomy can enhance the quality of their work, from the inspection and cleaning stages right through to the OR. This knowledge is an investment in improved patient outcomes, underlining the importance of continual learning and professional development in the Sterile Processing field.


You can catch this full episode here (and make sure to subscribe to the channel to catch new releases!):


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