The plasma care®
The plasma care® is a portable, hand-held medical device for the painless disinfection of wounds. Cold atmospheric plasma is used to kill bacteria, fungi and viruses, which hamper the healing process.
Construction and technology
The plasma care® is designed for easy and mobile use by physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. It is effective, user-friendly and has esthetic appeal at the same time. The spacer guarantees the hygienic and sterile application of the device.
Gehäuseoberteil = Top of body / Gehäuse = body / Plasma-Source-Unit = plasma source unit / Spacer = spacer
All body pieces of the plasma care® are molded from medical plastics. All surfaces are made of biocompatible synthetics. The control elements and LED-lights are integrated into the body of the plasma care® in such a way that there are no openings within the device through which contaminants might enter.
The product is made of four pieces:
The top of the body with touch control, which serves as user interface. It allows the activation and interruption of a treatment, as well as the deactivation of the device.
The body of the plasma care® contains the electronic equipment. Care was taken to ensure a balanced weight distribution so that an ergonomic handling of the plasma care® is possible.
The plasma source unit, which generates the plasma.
A sterile single-use spacer is used for the treatment of an individual patient. It is attached to the plasma source unit and guarantees a hygienic application of the plasma care®. For each new treatment it is compulsory to use a new spacer, which is ensured via an RFID unit (radio-frequency identification); it switches the device off, when a spacer is used repeatedly and indicates this via the user interface.
In the handle of the device there are two batteries and the electronic equipment that is required for the inductive charging process. In the head of the device there is a high voltage power supply unit, as well as the CPU with the according electronics to control the device. A balanced weight distribution allows for ergonomic handling of the plasma care®.
With the RFID unit it is ensured that the spacer is only used for a single defined application.
With an antenna on the inside of the body of the plasma care®, the RFID-tag, which is integrated into the spacer, is read out and checked for validity. If a spacer is unused and valid, the plasma care® is activated, and a treatment can be performed. If a spacer has already been used and marked as invalid by the device, then the treatment of a patient is prevented to minimize the risk of cross-contamination.
The batteries of the plasma care® are charged wireless in the docking station to prevent the entry of liquids and contaminants into the body of the device. By inductive charging it is ensured that the user and the patient do not have contact to any energized pieces of equipment. Once fully charged, the battery lasts for more than 200 applications.
Plasma is an ionized gas. This means that it contains charged particles. It is made from a gas by supplying energy to it, usually in the form of heat. It is often called the 4th state of matter. Natural examples for plasmas are the sun or lightning on earth.
Cold atmospheric plasma
Cold atmospheric plasmas (CAPs) are partially ionized gasses, i.e. only one in one million particles is ionized. It is the advantage of cold atmospheric plasmas that they can exist at room temperature and under atmospheric pressure. The plasma care® uses the so-called thin film technology, a further development of the surface micro discharge (SMD) technology. The plasma source unit consists of a high voltage sheet electrode, a dielectric insulator and an earthed mesh electrode. By applying high voltage with a magnitude of 3.5 kV, micro-discharges with a radius of a few millimeters occur within the squares of the mesh electrode. These ionize the gas (the air) and thereby produce the plasma.
The composition of a cold atmospheric plasma is not a defined entity. Instead it can be influenced for example by choosing the plasma source unit and its operating conditions. For the fine-tuning of a cold atmospheric plasma the term “plasma design” is used. In the case of the SMD cold plasma technology, which is integrated into the plasma care® medical device for wound care, the plasma design was selected to achieve high bactericidal properties, while preventing damage to healthy human tissues in vitro. In a similar manner as described by Shimizu et al. 2017 (DOI: 10.1615/PlasmaMed.2017019455) the plasma care® plasma source unit was tested in the oxygen and nitrogen modes, to determine the optimal operating conditions for maximum efficacy and safety. Based on these pre-clinical and extensive additional tests the plasma care® was carefully developed for its purpose.
The image above displays the activated plasma source unit (see image on the left) in the dark, in which the characteristic purple glow of the plasma is visible.
Mechanism of action in the patient
Due to the charged particles in the plasma so-called micropores are formed in the cell membrane of microorganisms. These have a diameter of just 5 nanometers and open for microseconds only. However, the highly reactive plasma components can still enter the cells. They react with the unprotected DNA and destroy it. This leads to the inactivation of bacteria, viruses and fungi independent of any antibiotic resistances or other defense mechanisms. The DNA of eukaryotic human cells is protected by the nuclear membrane and cell biological protection mechanisms. To current knowledge it is, therefore, not damaged within the therapeutic window.