Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Fluid Warming System", for Approval (USPTO 20170333630)

Computer Weekly News |

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor VAN OUDENALLEN, Robertus Gerardus (Vleuten, NL), filed on , was made available online on .

No assignee for this patent application has been made.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Field of the Invention

"The present invention relates to a fluid warming system, and method of operating same. The invention is particularly applicable to the warming of intravenous (IV) fluids for delivery to a patient. The invention may also be applied to refrigeration systems.

"Description of the Related Art

"In some cases it is convenient or necessary to use a fluid warmer to heat a fluid to a target temperature or range of temperatures, for example to warm intravenous (IV) fluids to body temperature before delivery to a patient, or to avoid ice forming within water pipes that may be exposed to sub-zero temperatures, or to prevent condensation of steam or other gases in certain parts of a chemical plant, and so on. The design of a fluid warmer may be complicated by an unknown or varying flow rate of fluid, a range of target temperatures, and may also be complicated by an unknown or varying temperature of the fluid entering the fluid warmer, for example.

"One design for an IV fluid warmer is given for example in U.S. Pat. No. 4,772,778, which discloses a system in which an IV line (that is, a thin tube carrying IV fluid) is placed within a serpentine groove in a heater casing, and the electric input to the heater is controlled on the basis of the temperature determined by a 'fluid-temperature thermistor', so as to raise the temperature of the fluid to a predetermined temperature. In this system, the serpentine shape of the groove in the heater allows a relatively long length of IV line to be exposed to the heater, increasing the amount of heat transferred to the fluid in the IV line. This type of device can suffer from several disadvantages, however, including the fact that a longer fluid path introduces more lag in the control of the heater, and the fact that a change in flow rate is more prone to cause either overheating of one part of the fluid, or underheating of another. In addition, the relatively poor thermal conductivity of the IV line reduces the efficiency of the system and can introduce further lag in the control of the heater. Furthermore, threading the IV line into the groove in the heater can be a time-consuming and difficult task in a clinical setting.

"Some fluid warming systems have improved usability by providing a dedicated fluid channel for heating the fluid, for example within a disposable cassette that can be attached to a heater unit. Such a cassette may have an inlet and outlet to which IV lines can be attached. Conventionally the heater element of a fluid warmer is controlled in dependence on a measured fluid outlet temperature, and temperature sensors are located as near as possible to the fluid outlet, including within the fluid itself. This latter arrangement can cause problems with contamination of the fluid, and there can otherwise be issues with cost and complexity, for example if an interface is required to transmit temperature measurements from the cassette to the control system. However, accurate temperature measurements or derivations are important if controlling a heater directly in dependence on such temperatures, and one would normally expect the performance of the heater control system to be worsened if temperature sensors were moved further away from the fluid.

"The present invention seeks to address these and other problems in the prior art."



As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "In a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a fluid warming system for warming intravenous fluid, comprising: a heater unit, including a heating element and at least one temperature sensor; a heat exchanger unit, removably attachable to the heater unit, which includes an inlet and an outlet through which the fluid can pass, and a controller, programmed: to receive at least one temperature measurement from said at least one temperature sensor in the heater unit; to compute a fluid flow rate, corresponding to the rate of flow of fluid from the inlet to the outlet of the heat exchanger unit, in dependence on the amount of electrical power supplied to the heating element and said at least one temperature measurement; and to control the electrical power supplied to the heating element in dependence on the computed fluid flow rate.

"In a second aspect of the invention, the controller is programmed: to compute an inlet heat flux corresponding to the heat flux between the heating element and the fluid in the vicinity of the inlet of the heat exchanger unit; to compute an outlet heat flux corresponding to the heat flux between the heating element and the fluid in the vicinity of the outlet of the heat exchanger unit; to compute an inlet fluid temperature in dependence on the computed inlet heat flux; to compute an outlet fluid temperature in dependence on the computed outlet heat flux: and to compute the fluid flow rate in dependence on the computed inlet and outlet fluid temperature.

"In a third aspect of the invention there is provided a (computer-implemented) method of operating a fluid warming system to warm intravenous fluid, the fluid warming system comprising a heater unit, including a heating element and at least one temperature sensor, and a heat exchanger unit, removably attachable to the heater unit and including an inlet and an outlet through which the fluid can pass, and the method comprising: receiving at least one temperature measurement from said at least one temperature sensor in the heater unit; computing a fluid flow rate, corresponding to the rate of flow of fluid from the inlet to the outlet of the heat exchanger unit, in dependence on the amount of electrical power supplied to the heating element and said at least one temperature measurement; and controlling the electrical power supplied to the heating element in dependence on the computed fluid flow rate.

"Although the embodiments of the invention described herein with reference to the drawings may comprise computer-related methods or apparatus, the invention may also extend to program instructions, particularly program instructions on or in a carrier, adapted for carrying out the processes of the invention or for causing a computer to perform as the computer apparatus of the invention. Programs may be in the form of source code, object code, a code intermediate source, such as in partially compiled form, or any other form suitable for use in the implementation of the processes according to the invention. The carrier may be any entity or device capable of carrying the program instructions.

"For example, the carrier may comprise a storage medium, such as a ROM, for example a CD ROM or a semiconductor ROM, or a magnetic recording medium, for example a floppy disc, hard disc, or flash memory, optical memory, and so on. Further, the carrier may be a transmissible carrier such as an electrical or optical signal which may be conveyed via electrical or optical cable or by radio or other means. When a program is embodied in a signal which may be conveyed directly by cable, the carrier may be constituted by such cable or other device or means.

"Although various aspects and embodiments of the present invention are described separately herein, any of the aspects and features of the present invention can be used in conjunction with any other aspect, embodiment or feature where appropriate. For example apparatus features may where appropriate be interchanged with method features. References to single entities should, where appropriate, be considered generally applicable to multiple entities and vice versa. Unless otherwise stated herein, no feature described herein should be considered to be incompatible with any other, unless such a combination is clearly and inherently incompatible. Accordingly, it should generally be envisaged that each and every separate feature disclosed in the introduction, description and drawings is combinable in any appropriate way with any other unless (as noted above) explicitly or clearly incompatible."

For additional information on this patent application, see: VAN OUDENALLEN, Robertus Gerardus. Fluid Warming System. Filed and posted . Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220170333630%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20170333630&RS=DN/20170333630

Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Computers.

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