Posted April 12, 2013 by Michael J. Kora in Hot Topics

Medical device innovations lead to extraordinary advances

From custom prosthetics to minimally invasive surgery, innovations in health-related devices are top to some astonishing advances. 1 example: an artificial heart that makes use of plastic tubes as an alternative of heart valves to move blood in and out of two plastic ventricles. Implanted in much more than 1,000 patients, this plastic heart has extended lives by much more than 270 years. And now U.S. regulators are reviewing an accompanying mobile power supply carried in a backpack, so appropriate sufferers could leave the hospital and live at house.

It&rsquos a outstanding improvement &ndash and it&rsquos just a single of several in the performs, typically produced achievable by specialized plastics. Right here are some others on the horizon:

Vaccination patches: Researchers are creating a plastic skin patch that could replace numerous painful injections. The patch contains plastic &ldquomicro-needles&rdquo that dissolve into the skin, painlessly delivering vaccinations for a assortment of illnesses, including the flu. Patients may possibly even be capable to administer the vaccine themselves.

Resorbable heart stent: A plastic heart stent can open a clogged artery to restore blood flow to the heart &ndash and then slowly dissolve into the physique. This resorbable plastic could eliminate the want for one more invasive procedure to get rid of the stent, as well as reduce the likelihood of blood clots and scarring.

3-D physique component printing: Researchers are utilizing a layered assembly manufacturing strategy &ndash named &ldquo3-D printing&rdquo &ndash to produce medical devices and implants making use of plastics. For example, a variety of plastic and living cells are combined into a material utilised to make three-D printed implants to replace human ear cartilage. The combination of supplies tends to make the body far more most likely to respond favorably to the implant, according to researchers.

Polycarbonate health-related devices: An incredibly challenging, clear plastic, polycarbonate now is being employed to make transparent surgical tools, such as cannulas (tiny tubes inserted into the physique) that enable arthroscopic surgery. Given that polycarbonate is clear, surgeons gain far better visibility of sutures and surgical knots in the course of the procedure.

Bacteria-resistant plastics: Many newly found plastics may possibly contribute to decreased infections. These plastics have &ldquononstick&rdquo surfaces that bacteria aren&rsquot attracted to, which could aid prevent contamination from bacteria-laden &ldquobiofilms.&rdquo The plastics could be used to make catheters or medical equipment to assist ward off preventable disease.

Self-healing prosthetics: Researchers are creating a new plastic &ldquoskin&rdquo that recognizes when it&rsquos been broken and responds by healing itself. The plastic skin mimics the flexibility and sensitivity of human skin &ndash it becomes electrically conducive by adding a bit of nickel. The plastic skin can restore its mechanical and electrical properties soon after being reduce &nbspand that cycle can be repeated over and over once more. Among other applications, researchers hope the self-healing plastic may be utilized to manufacture lifelike prosthetic limbs that heal themselves right after injury &ndash a lot the way human skin does.

Lifesaving plastic foam: A novel use of polyurethane plastic foam is being explored to stabilize trauma sufferers with internal injuries on the battlefield. The U.S. government is studying the use of polyurethane foam to fill injured physique cavities following severe internal injury from combat. The foam expands inside the body, conforming to the shape of injured tissue and reducing blood loss, just before the surgeon removes the foam in a single piece. Based on current tests, researchers estimate that this technologies could considerably boost survival rates.

Printing human ears, delivering painless vaccines, self-healing artificial skin, see-through healthcare devices although these innovations could sound futuristic, some currently exist &ndash and other people could hold the potential to enhance health-related care for men and women about the planet.

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Michael J. Kora