Available Technologies: Health Sciences

Disposable depth gauge for orthopaedic surgery

A disposable, ergonomic, easy to use depth gauge, developed in consultation with orthopaedic surgeons. The design significantly reduces the potential for cross-contamination, eliminating costly delays in surgery and optimising the ability of surgeons to use this instrument comfortably and effectively with a single hand.

Benefitsdepth gauge

  • Usability: While grasping the handle a surgeon’s hand is kept from getting in the way of reading measurements and other tasks being carried out at the operation site.
  • Manufacturing: High volume manufacturing reduces the per part cost of producing this depth gauge.
  • Sterilisation: Designed to be used in a single operation and disposed of afterwards, there is no need for the costly re-sterilisation.
  • Time-saving: A faster method of measurement results in a faster operation which is beneficial to both the patient and surgeon. Eliminates surgery delays which may be experienced with standard depth gauge kits.
  • Adaptability: This design for lower limbs can be adapted for use on other parts of the body.


Orthopaedic bone plate surgery requires the use of a depth gauge tool to accurately measure the depth of a hole which has been drilled through the bone so a screw of the correct length can be used. Typical depth gauge tools are designed to be reusable and require laborious cleaning processes between operations, increasing the total cost of ownership of tools for medical institutions.

Combining modern materials and manufacturing techniques in the design of a new depth gauge device holds the key to a more effective and user-friendly design solution. A gauge designed for intuitive user interaction means that a surgeon can stay focused on the task at hand.


A combined handle and hinge feature take advantage of the material properties to reduce the number of parts required in manufacturing. This produces a better and more efficient depth gauge.

The device is proposed to be manufactured through injection moulding, making it suitable for high volume manufacture. Comprising of only two parts simplifies assembly and lowers the cost of production tooling.

Disposable tools for orthopaedic surgery are suitable for situations where sterilisation is either unavailable or not cost effective.


  • 2017 Premiers Award, Design Institute of Australia Awards
  • 2017 Student Award, Design Institute of Australia Awards

Potential markets

We expect this device to replace traditional depth gauges and be included in surgery kits.

Medical institutions which facilitate orthopaedic surgery stand to benefit from this device, saving time in surgery and mitigating risk to patients. When adapted properly, the design could be used in surgery on small to large bones.

IP Status

The technology is covered by a PCT application.

Partnering opportunities

We are currently looking for opportunities to partner or license the technology with depth gauge kit manufacturers.


  • John Nicholl, Master of Industrial Design, UniSA
  • Andrew Whittaker, Lecturer: Product Design, UniSA

Commerical lead