Checking the integrity of encapsulated electronics in a surgical tool

CareTag Surgical develops full solutions for the efficient management of surgical and other hospital equipment, based on the use of new technologies, such as RFID.

The challenge

During the development of a connected surgical clamp, CareTag needed to assess the integrity of the encapsulation surrounding an electronic device (Fig 1). The company used X-ray imaging to investigate their product but a full assessment of gluing integrity between the polymer and steel parts was not possible.

The experiment

CareTag was advised on the use of neutron tomography to complement X-ray imaging. When the steel surgical clamp was scanned on a neutron imaging beamline, bubble-like structures were identified on the radiographic and tomographic images (Fig 2).

The results

The measurements confirmed that a quantitative evaluation of the number and size of the pores is feasible despite the presence of a high X-ray- and neutron-absorbing material within the electronics.

Fig 1. Surgical clamp with embedded electronics.
Fig 2. Selected slices of the tomographic reconstruction from neutron measurements. Red arrows indicate bubble-like structures within the encapsulation.
"The information provided by the neutron scan gave significant insight into the glue of the RFID-tag. We are pleased to see that there are no defects or irregularities between the metal and the chip, suggesting that the current adhesive procedure is satisfactory. We were delighted to be given the opportunity to use this advanced characterisation technique, and we hope we can return to perform a comparative test of another process.”

Søren Bilsøe
Co-founder of CareTag Surgical