In most medical and surgical facilities you will be able to find suction regulators as part of a medical gas system. Also commonly referred to as vacuum regulators, these units are an important part of the overall medical gas pipeline. These specialized regulators allow high-pressure vacuum suction, being generated by the facility’s central vacuum system, to be reduced to a level that is safe for use with patients. Essentially, these regulators act as pressure limiters that minimize the overall pressure being generated from the main vacuum system to a lower level that is conducive for patient use during suction applications and for use with scavenging circuits where waste gas disposal is necessary.
The Most Common Vacuum Regulators
There are three types of medical suction regulators that are most commonly used. These three types are: continuous, continuous/intermittent, and continuous/high. Each of these regulators come with a variety of patient connections and inlet connection options to suit your specific application needs. Most manufacturers offer options for specialty applications such as pediatric and neonatal. There are also analog and digital display options available. Below is a more detailed view of the common types of medical vacuum regulators:
- Continuous Regulators – the most popular type of suction regulator. These units work by providing continuous suction at the selected mmHg during use. Continuous regulators also tend to offer higher flow rates when compared to the intermittent models.
- Continuous/Intermittent Regulators – these regulators are also referred to as combination units. They can be set to continuous suction or intermittent suction. While in intermittent mode, the regulator will cycle the suction on/off at the selected mmHg. The intermittent timing selection can be adjusted on the back of the unit. This combination unit is an excellent option for medical professionals looking for the ability to have both vacuum/suction options available in their facility.
- Continuous/High Regulators – this suction unit is most commonly used in surgical applications or for an operating room environment where high flow rates are necessary. These vacuum regulators come with higher mmHg vacuum settings which are usually required while performing surgical or operating room procedures.
How They Work
The regulators connect into the vacuum or WAGD wall outlet located within the facility room. Once plugged in to the wall outlet, the vacuum hose can then be attached to the regulator and then the suction pressure can be adjusted to the required levels. These suction devices allow the medical professional to manually adjust the vacuum pressure as needed throughout procedures or while in use. The analog units can be adjusted by turning the dial located on the front of the unit to the selected mmHg. Digital regulator units are adjusted by using the dial located on the front of the device and the selected mmHg will display in a digital number format.
Choosing the Appropriate Suction Regulator
When choosing a medical vacuum regulator for your facility, it is important to take into account how the unit will be used and what environment it is being used in. For example, there are specialty models for neonatal and pediatric applications that have lower flow rates and lower mmHg settings. Also, if the medical suction regulator is being used in a surgical application or operating room environment then you will need to make sure the unit selected has a high enough flow rate and mmHg setting. Additionally, some manufacturers offer a variety of color options for the regulator body to help facilities color coordinate the suction regulators being used. This color coding also makes it easier for the medical professionals to identify which one to connect in to.
Amico currently offers the only vacuum regulator on the market able to detect contamination. The Sentinel regulator has an LED indicator light on the front that will turn on once contamination within the unit has been detected. This is a critical element and can make the difference in a patient life safety setting.