Cause of Device-Related Incident
*Not stated

Clinical Specialty or Hospital Department
Clinical/Biomedical Engineering; Dermatology; OR / Surgery

Device Factors
*Not stated

Document Type
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

External Factors
*Not stated

Mechanism of Injury or Death
*Not stated

Support System Failures
*Not stated

Tampering and/or Sabotage
*Not stated

User Errors
*Not stated

Dermatomes [11-179]

Inspection and Testing of Dermatomes

FAQ [Health Devices Dec 1998;27(12):447]

Question: Our biomedical engineering department has recently been receiving complaints about poor performance of dermatomes used in skin grafting procedures. Does ECRI have any recommendations for inspecting and testing these devices?

Answer: Most dermatome problems reported to ECRI involve the device removing an uneven layer of skin or a layer that is too thick for the graft. These problems can have a number of causes, most of which can be identified by a careful examination of the device and its performance.

When inspecting a dermatome, we recommend that you first verify that all components meet the manufacturer's specifications (e.g., the device's blade is the correct size). Check that the blade is in good condition; for pneumatically powered devices, check that all compressed-gas hoses and fittings are in good condition as well. Also check that the blade and other attachments are properly assembled. Especially check for proper orientation of the blade in its operating position. Then verify that the blade depth adjustment and any other adjustments or switches work properly. Test electrically powered devices for electrical safety. Correct any problems you uncover by replacing the defective or damaged components or by returning the device to the supplier for repair.

You can check the calibration of the dermatome by measuring the thickness and consistency of skin samples removed by the device. The best substance to use for this test is fresh pigskin warmed to body temperature (although room temperature is satisfactory). Pigskin can be obtained from many butchers and from most meat-packing companies and is very similar to human skin. Note, however, that obtaining an accurate and consistent skin sample is very technique dependent, even with a properly functioning dermatome.


Dermatomes [11-179]

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