BY DALE MUNSON
Criteria for Selecting an ESU Analyzer BY DALE MUNSON
s a longtime trainer on electrosurgical products, I’m often asked questions about test equipment and, more particularly, this question: “Can you tell me which ESU analyzer is best?” But, it’s like asking me, “How many calories are in a meal?” With either question, the answer depends on a substantial number of situational variables that can be evaluated and determined on a case-by-case basis.
Based on my experience with a variety of analyzers, I do have a well-informed opinion of which analyzer I believe is best, but I’d rather answer in terms of what’s most important to the person asking the question. For some it’s price or accuracy; for others it might be features, portability or auto-sequencing capabilities. In this article, I want to point out some of the key factors that should be taken into consideration when making this important capital equipment decision. I’m particularly motivated to provide this information because I’ve seen and heard so many misrepresentations, omission of facts, half-truths and misleading statements by a variety of test equipment vendors. Overall, my advice is to make sure you’re well informed. Don’t make a decision based on the “best-thing-sincesliced-bread” claims of a salesperson or fancy marketing materials. Put in the effort. Do your research with an eye on the “big picture” objective. First, no company provides a perfect solution when it comes to ESU
testing. All analyzers have their merits and faults. Following are eight factors to consider as you evaluate ESU analyzers. ACCURACY • I ndependent verification of product claims • B enchmarking analytics (actual output data comparison) Is the analyzer capable of testing the generator to the specifications defined in the service manual (e.g., 1%, 3% or 5% accuracy)? Many analyzers can’t meet the stated specs, but the ESU vendors won’t tell you that. Instead, they’ll use fancy sales jargon or half-truths to make you believe it’s fully compliant. Further, is there empirical data (in an easy to understand format) that supports their claims? VERSATILITY • Ability to measure different output waveforms • Product embedded features Many generators now have pulsed outputs (e.g., Olympus, Conmed, Soring, BOWA, Codman, Ellman, Macan, Sutter, KLS Martin and ERBE). Even generators that have been around for years like the Conmed 5000 and 2450 have pulsed output modes. These outputs cannot be measured by most analyzers. If your hospital decides to switch to different ESU generators – generators that have pulsed mode outputs – you’ll have to replace your current ESU analyzer. Ouch! EASE OF USE • User interface
• Auto sequencing • Required (manual) interactions during normal use Is the analyzer easy to use? Is the GUI intuitive? How many manual interactions (cable or jumper moves) are required during a PM? Does the analyzer have true autosequencing abilities? Many vendors say they do, but that depends on how they define auto-sequencing. Be very careful here. True auto-sequencing of PM steps will save considerable time and, of course, time savings translates into real money. Have the vendor demonstrate this feature to you and then you be the judge of the associated time savings. INPUTS/OUTPUTS • Compare each analyzer’s ability to: • Connect to external devices (e.g., keyboard, mouse or storage device) • Generate and store test results • Display output data, such as power curves LONGEVITY FOR INTENDED USE • Reliability/MTBF • Durability • Upgradability Does the analyzer solve both the present and future needs? Can the analyzer be upgraded easily if output requirements change?