Characterization of plastic hypodermic needles

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Busillo, Eric
Colton, Jonathan S.
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Significant potential for plastic hypodermic needles exists as an alternative to current steel needles, especially in developing regions where proper needle disposal is problematic. Needle reuse causes tens of millions of hepatitis and HIV infections each year. Plastic needles may reduce reusability and increase the opportunities for safe disposal. Plastic needles also will help with medical waste disposal, by removing metal from the waste stream, hence making it easier to reprocess needles and syringes into useful products such as car battery cases and pails. This thesis presents the design and testing of one type of plastic hypodermic needle. The buckling and penetration characteristics of the needles were modeled and analyzed analytically and by finite element analyses. Experimental penetration tests using steel and plastic hypodermic needles and skin mimics, specifically polyurethane film and pig skin, were performed to determine penetration and friction forces. Penetration tests also were conducted to determine whether the needles could penetrate butyl rubber stoppers that cover drug vials. Various lubricants, including silicone oil and a medical grade silicone dispersion, were also used. In addition, the needles underwent perpendicular bending tests and cannula stiffness tests. Finally, fluid flow tests were conducted to determine fluid flow rates through the needles. Experimental results were compared to each other and finite element analyses and discussed. The research presented in this thesis demonstrates that with further design modifications, plastic needles may become suitable for mass replacement of steel needles, thus helping to eradicate the many health and environmental risks brought upon by steel needles.
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