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5 Tips for Buying Orthopedic Powered Surgical Tools

5 Tips for Buying Orthopedic Powered Surgical Tools

Orthopedic Powered Surgical Tools

The introduction and use of powered surgical tools have revolutionized orthopedic surgery. Surgical power tools are used now in many aspects of orthopedic surgery from wound management in trauma cases to the large drilling and reaming of orthopedic cases.

Whether purchasing new or refurbished surgical tools, here are some things to take into consideration.

1. How long has the equipment been on the market?

Most major brands release new power equipment systems every 3-5 years, typically at the AAOS (America Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) Conference. When shopping for new power tools be sure to inquire with your sales rep about when the next generation will be released. They will be able to help you navigate your timeline of purchase if new equipment is the route you would like to go.

Purchasing refurbished and used medical equipment is the option we recommend for cost savings. When purchased from a reputable dealer, it is a cost-effective way to obtain the equipment you need but at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new. This equipment goes through an extensive process to ensure safety and usability for the surgeon. Just like with cars, surgical drills and saws will last for years with proper care. You do not need to purchase new surgical power equipment when there are plenty of surgical tool systems for sale available on the used market. But, just like with used cars, there can be a wide spectrum of “used”. Here at Didage and Surgical Power we refurbish every surgical hand piece to ensure peace of mind.

For more information on used surgical handpieces call our office or send us an email. One of our reps will be happy to help you navigate your purchase.

2. What types of systems are available?

The types of surgical systems fall into 3 categories BatteryPneumatic, and Electric. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Battery Powered Hand Pieces


  1. Batteries provide range of movement

  2. Most improvements have been made to battery surgical systems

  3. Dual trigger and single trigger surgical drills options


  1. Dead batteries

  2. Ongoing cost for surgical battery replacements

  3. Constant upgrades may turn your surgical drill system obsolete sooner than other power equipment options.

The Freedom of Batteries

The up side to battery powered surgical equipment is the freedom of movement. Electric and pneumatic surgical drills are inhibited with a cord and hose respectively. The downside to surgical battery systems is the potential for dead and dying batteries. They are both the glory and Achilles heel in the same package. One way to get more out of your system is by choosing the correct type of batteries for your surgery center of hospital. Battery operated surgical tools are powered by either a NiCad battery or a Lithium batteries depending on your brand. Knowing which battery is being used with your surgical instrument is important because it will help you determine the longevity of the power tool.

Lithium vs NiCad

When choosing a battery to use with your power tools it is best to look for surgical power tools that utilize Lithium batteries over NiCad due to their longer shelf life and run-time in the operating room. Lithium batteries may cost more up front, but don’t let that scare you away. Lithium batteries are more powerful than NiCad batteries, allowing for them to keep their power during surgery and decreasing the amount of times you will have to change out your battery and limit the frustrations for your surgeon. Lithium batteries provide more torque than NiCad batteries allowing the surgeon more power in the operating room.

Dependency on Batteries

The need to purchase batteries at a regular rate gives the power to the manufacturer to force upgrades. Note: If a manufacturer decides to stop producing the batteries for your chosen system, you may get stuck being forced to upgrade before you are ready to do so.

When to buy NiCad

Shipping lithium batteries can be headache if you aren’t sure of the rules and regulations. All standalone lithium batteries are prohibited to be shipped as cargo on passenger aircraft's. Beginning January 1, 2019, lithium batteries are now classified as a Class 9 diamond hazard. This requires a new label to be used that includes a graphic to illustrate the presence of lithium batteries.

It is important to check with your carrier whether they will accept air shipments of lithium batteries and what their restrictions are.

If you are a mission’s organization or a traveling surgeon, you may want to consider NiCad simply so you don’t have to worry about shipping or flying with your batteries

Follow the link to view battery powered surgical systems or call today to receive a quote.

Pneumatic Hand Pieces

If you decide you did not want to be at the mercy of a dying battery a pneumatic set of surgical power tools may be a good option for you. Let’s look at these benefits.


  1. They use nitrogen or medical air to operate and give a constant supply of power even in the event of a power outage.

  2. They are very cheap to repair when compared to battery and electric options

  3. Least expensive initial investment

  4. The quantity of replacement parts available ensure any pneumatic system will be operational for decades and you will not be forced into a newer system unless you are ready to do so.


  1. Slightly more repairs than electric or battery if the air supply is dirty or wet.

  2. Higher risk for fluid invasion to seize or stall the handpiece

  3. The hose makes them more restrictive than a battery system

With a pneumatic tool you will have to work around a hose and air tank, but this may be small price to pay for continued power and a decreased chance of losing power due to a failing battery.

Electric Hand Pieces

Electric hand pieces are another option if you are looking for continuous power supply in your OR.


  1. Constant power thanks to an electric power supply

  2. Low maintenance

  3. Lighter than most pneumatic and battery options


  1. Expensive to repair

  2. The cord makes them more restrictive than a battery system

  3. Will stop working if the power goes out.

Electric hand pieces are tethered to a console and you will have a cord to work around. The benefits of continued power may outweigh the chances of a failed battery in a battery powered hand piece or contaminated air in a pneumatic hand piece.

3. How many sets to purchase

Take some time to calculate how many times a day your surgical tools will be used along with the time it takes for the tools to be sterilized and this will help you determine how many sets you need. We suggest this rule of thumb: One, plus one backup set for every other case you plan on performing for the day, rounding up. So, if you have a 5 orthopedic case load on average then you will want a minimum of 4 sets. This will allow your sterile processing department time to turn the first set in time for the last case. If you only have 1 surgery per day, you will still want a minimum of 2 sets. If the first set fails during surgery, the backup can be brought in to finish up the surgery. You do not want to have a patient on the table and not be able to finish the surgery because you only purchased 1 set. Backup sets can be ready in minutes; loaners can take hours or days depending on your options. Make the investment in the backup set for the sake of your patients. To purchase additional sets or if you have any questions, call our office or send us an email and we will be able to help you determine how many sets your center or hospital will need.

You do not want to be without a backup set in the middle of a surgery.

4. Warranty

In your search for power equipment, you may find companies that offer used equipment at what seem like great prices, but make sure they clearly define their warranty coverage in an Master Service Agreement (MSA). Often times when buying from companies that are selling used medical equipment, they do nothing more than check functionality of the surgical device. It is important that any piece of medical equipment is opened up, appropriate sub-components replaced, and quality checked. You may think that you are getting a great deal from a used medical equipment dealer, but if these steps are not taken, equipment repairs can be very costly, and run up to $1,200 or more to repair it. Companies that offer a higher refurbished price will back up their work with a 1 year warranty or more to ensure customers that the equipment last for years to come, as well as offer extended service contracts. All that to say, you get what you pay for. Save yourself a headache and buy from a refurb company that will stand behind their work and save yourself loads of cash in the process when compared to buying new equipment.

If you do find yourself with a surgical device from another company that mysteriously doesn't work, don't worry. We have you covered, fill out a Request for Service and we will help resolve the issue.

5. Are there any recalls on the surgical power tools?

Recalls happen every so often with products. It is important to do your research on for any items you are purchasing to ensure you are not purchasing an item that could pose risk to a patient. Recalls can be found online on the FDA website.
If there is a recall on a product you should be asking two things:

  1. If the recall has been corrected.

  2. How was the recall corrected?

  3. Does my refurbished vendor know about the recall?

Any reputable sales rep will be able to inform you of any recalls and guide you in the correct direction if you are considering an item that had been recalled. If you have any questions, contact our sales team or send us an email.


The benefits of using powered surgical equipment are simple. They increase efficiency in the operating room. Without surgical power tools you will not be able to perform surgeries that require them.

When looking at purchasing new vs. used or refurbished medical equipment it is important to weigh the benefits between the two types. When a new model is released look closely at the specifications and compare them to the current model. Are the handpieces 1 ounce lighter, is the color different, etc.? If the changes are slight from the last generation to the current generation like a color change then it may not be cost effective to purchase new. If however, the change is substantial like in the case of NiCad to Lithium then purchasing the new system could be the best route. Spending some time researching this area could potentially save you thousands of dollars in the long run.


Most systems should last 3-5 years depending on how well the tools are maintained. Surgical tools need to have routine maintenance every 6-12 months. This will ensure that the tools stay in good working condition and lessens the chances of the surgical tools breaking down prematurely. You can view our preventative maintenance recommendations for more information.
When looking at brands of surgical power equipment, the most popular in the United States are; Stryker InstrumentsConmed (Hall Powered Instuments)MedtronicMicroaireDe-SoutterZimmer Biometand Brasseler whereas the most popular brands in the European market are; De-Soutter, Stryker, and Aesculap. These brands are reliable and high quality so you know when you’re purchasing you will have a superior product.

What surgical power tools should you be leery of purchasing? Disposable tools. These surgical tools are going to be cheap but if you plan to use them consistently it is worth purchasing reusable. Here is an example: say you pay $1,000 for a disposable power set per surgery vs. purchasing a set for $30,000 that will then last 3-5 years can be used multiple times a day. The quality of the reusable tools will be higher than disposable tools and you will be able to use them for years to come.


To sterilize any surgical power equipment, you will always need to refer to your OEM manual and follow those directions carefully.

You will want to stay away from flash sterilizing handpieces with the only exception being batteries. Again, review the instructions for use (IFU) for every item to ensure proper sterilization. Flash sterilization is sterilizing equipment for a short amount of time at a high temperature versus a longer period of time at a lower temperature. Doing this can cause the handpieces to corrode easier and become brittle. As always, refer to your OEM manual for all care instructions.

Note: You will have more repair costs if you flash sterilize because of the damage it causes.


Surgical equipment repairs may be inevitable, but they can be avoided longer with proper care. When your surgical power equipment breaks you will want to ensure that you always have a backup on hand. Sometimes just one backup set will not be enough. To send in an item for repair, simply fill out our Request for Service (RFS) form and one of our customer service representatives will be able to assist you in the process.

So why are repair costs for surgical equipment so high even if your equipment is not the newest model? Electrical components. The electrical components never decrease in price no matter how old your tools are. This unfortunately keeps repair costs on the higher end. This is why pneumatic systems are less expensive to repair than battery and electric surgical tools.

Finding a Guide and Not Just a Sales Rep

You will want a sales rep who is trustworthy, knowledgeable about the products, and capable of guiding you through a buying decision. You will want to work with a sales rep that is going to work with you on your budget and will be straightforward and honest with you about the used and refurbished medical equipment and surgical tools you are purchasing.

Your sales rep will be able to discuss your concerns and assist you in determining which items to purchase to meet the needs of your operating room. They will be able to help you determine if purchasing refurbished medical equipment will get you a better deal rather than a new set, or if you would benefit from leasing or renting.

CLICK HERE to shop for Pneumatic, Battery Powered, and Orthopedic Powered Surgical Tools

Here at Didage Sales Company and Surgical Power we don’t just offer quality refurbished equipment, we help guide you towards the best options, so you can make informed decisions, because we are unbiased across brands. We can help you win at purchasing. Contact us to learn more about our products, services and to see what orthopedic power tools are right for your practice.

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