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Understanding Implantable Medical Devices

What are implantable medical devices?
Common Examples of Implantable Medical Devices
Leading implantable medical device manufacturers
References
Read further


Implantable medical devices are introduced into the human body through surgery or other medical procedures to perform specific functions. The most common examples of implantable medical devices are artificial joints, breast implants, cochlear implants, intraocular lenses, pacemakers, other heart implants, and intrauterine contraceptives.

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What are implantable medical devices?

Implantable medical devices are placed in the human body permanently or temporarily to support functions of specific organs or tissues, monitor physiological activities, or deliver drugs. Some implants are prosthetics and are intended to replace damaged parts of the body. These devices can consist of human tissues or exogenous materials, such as metals, plastics and ceramics.

The operation of active implantable medical devices is dependent on a source of electrical energy other than that generated directly by the human body or gravity. These battery-powered devices are often used to support heart functions and are intended to remain in the body after the surgical or medical implant procedure.

Common Examples of Implantable Medical Devices

Cardioverter Defibrillator

A cardioverter-defibrillator is a battery-operated medical device that is implanted in the heart tissue. The device is used to monitor heart rhythms and to deliver electrical shocks to stimulate the heart muscle. In patients with recurrent and persistent ventricular tachycardia, the device is implanted to restore normal heart rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac death.

Pacemaker

A pacemaker is a small battery-powered device that is implanted under the collarbone. The device sends electrical impulses to the heart through wires to maintain normal heartbeat rhythm. Some pacemakers are wireless and are placed in the heart using a tube inserted through one of the veins.

Any damage to the heart’s electrical conduction system from a heart attack can lead to an irregular heartbeat. In such circumstances, a pacemaker helps to restore and maintain normal heart functions.

Left Ventricular Assist Device

A left ventricular assist device is used to support heart circulation. The left ventricle is a large ventricle that pumps blood from the heart to circulate throughout the body. A left ventricular assist device is a battery-operated mechanical pumping device that is surgically implanted to maintain the pumping ability of the left ventricle. The device is particularly useful for patients with end-stage heart failure who cannot undergo a heart transplant.

The device uses a tube to transfer blood from the left ventricle to a pump, which is placed in the upper abdomen. The pump then sends the blood through the aorta into the circulation. The battery and control system placed outside the body are connected to the implanted pump through another tube inserted through the abdominal wall.

breast implants

Breast implants are placed under the breast tissue or muscle for breast augmentation or reconstruction. The implants are generally composed of a silicone outer shell filled with saline or silicone gel. There are a variety of implants with different sizes, thicknesses, textures and shapes available on the market.

Cochlear Implants

Cochlear implants are electronic hearing aids that consist of an external microphone, sound processor, transmitter system, and an internally implanted receiver and electrode system. The internal system uses electronic circuitry to receive signals from the external system and send electrical currents to the inner ear.

The implants generate effective hearing sensations in people with severe to profound hearing loss.

Image Credit: Ivan_Shenets/Shutterstock.com

Image Credit: Ivan_Shenets/Shutterstock.com

Intraocular lenses

Intraocular lenses are permanently implanted in the eye to correct vision. These implants reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses. The lenses are made of plastic or silicone and are placed in front of or behind the iris. A small incision is made in the eye to insert the lens. Unlike the intraocular lenses implanted during cataract surgery, these lenses are placed in the eyes without removing the endogenous optic lens.

hip implants

Hip implants are medical devices that contain a bullet and a socket. The ball is usually made of metal or ceramic and the socket is made of metal, ceramic or plastic. The implants are surgically placed in patients with hip injuries or arthritis to restore mobility and relieve pain.

Contraceptive IUDs

Birth control IUDs are placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. A plastic tube containing the device is inserted into the uterus through the vagina. After placement, the tube is removed. These devices are very effective for long-term contraception and avoiding the risks and side effects of hormonal contraceptives.

More advanced devices release a low-dose hormone into the womb every day to improve the effectiveness of birth control. It also reduces menstrual blood flow and protects women at risk from endometrial cancer.

Leading implantable medical device manufacturers

With an increasing prevalence of chronic age-related health problems, rapid growth has been observed in the medical device industry worldwide. Some newly emerging technologies, including cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence, have contributed significantly to advances in the medical device sector.

Companies that have been at the top of the medical device industry for decades include Medtronic (Ireland), Johnson & Johnson (US), CardinalHealth (Ireland and US), Abbott (Chicago), Siemens AG (Germany), Stryker Corporation ( USA), General Electric Company (USA), Baxter International Inc. (US) and Boston Scientific Corporation (US).

References

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