Rhode Island Patent of the Month – April 2024

ALCOR Scientific, Inc, a pioneer in medical device innovation, has been granted a patent for a new flow sensor system designed to enhance enteral feeding systems. With a focus on detecting the presence or absence of flow through a conduit, this invention represents a significant advancement in patient care and safety.

Enteral feeding and nutrition systems deliver nutrients to the gut via a feeding tube. They are typically equipped with a pumping mechanism and disposable fluid system. If any occlusions or blockages occur in either system, the nutrition product may cease flowing. ALCOR Scientific’s system tracks flow rate to detect any reductions in flow and aims to improve overall flow.

The flow sensor system comprises a sleek and efficient design, featuring a substantially planar front portion with a specially designed U-shaped channel. This channel is meticulously crafted to retain the conduit securely without compressing it, ensuring the maintenance of a round cross-sectional geometry for optimal performance.

Central to the system is a heat source strategically positioned at one end of the conduit and a heat detector located at the other. These components work in tandem with a sophisticated controller to execute a series of precise measurements and calculations.

Upon activation, the heat source elevates the temperature of a portion of the liquid nutrient formula within the conduit. As the fluid flows downstream, the heat detector monitors the relative temperature, providing crucial data for analysis.

The controller performs a series of calculations, including determining a reference temperature of the liquid nutrient formula and measuring the temperature difference between the reference and the heated portion. Based on these calculations, the system can accurately determine whether a partial or complete occlusion is present in the conduit.

Key features of the flow sensor system include the use of an IR LED as the heat source, providing efficient and reliable heating capabilities. Additionally, a photodiode IR sensor is employed to detect the presence of the conduit within the channel, enhancing overall system functionality.

With a focus on safety and reliability, the system includes built-in mechanisms for validating the detection results. By comparing the measured temperature data against predefined response curves stored in the controller memory, users can ensure accurate diagnosis of flow conditions.

ALCOR Scientific’s innovative flow sensor system represents a significant advancement in enteral feeding technology. By providing real-time detection of flow conditions, this invention enhances patient safety and enables healthcare providers to deliver more effective and efficient care. With its sophisticated design and advanced functionality, the flow sensor system sets a new standard for enteral feeding systems, paving the way for improved patient outcomes and enhanced clinical practices.

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