Non Ironic Bionics: Tips for Safe Usage of Implantable Medical Devices

A more than 3,000 year old Egyptian noblewoman probably had no idea how inspiring her toe would be to the modern Western world. In 2007, archeologists discovered a beautiful mummy with a functional prosthetic toe. So functional, in fact, that University of Manchester experts are studying it for modern medical device integration. Improving our bodies with the help of inanimate objects is nothing new, but with great technology, comes great responsibility. More than 200 billion dollars is spent on implantable medical technology each year, although there is little information available about the extent of flaws and mishaps that occur with the most common devices. Even though we may win an uphill health battle with implantable devices, improper use can cause them to go downhill fast.

Unequipped Hips

Artificial hips can be a godsend for those whose hip joints have deteriorated from age or weight-gain, and there are more than 230,000 in usage today. Overall, they provide tremendous ease of pain and increased, but there are some major malfunctions and patients should be prepared for before they “get hipped.”

  • Artificial Hip Joints can become focal points for infections, and fragments can be left behind. It is essential to look for early signs of infection; pain, swelling discomfort.
  • Research the manufacturer: in 2010, DePuy of Johnson & Johnson recalled faulty hip replacements in 93,000 people. Ouch. It’s crucial to find out who made your new body part and whether they have a sterling reputation.

Implantable Defibrillators: Sometimes They Do Skip a Beat

ICDs have saved many lives, as they correct arrhythmic, potentially deadly heart problems for more than 133,262 people worldwide. Although there is little risk for complication or malfunction, recipients should still be aware of exactly how they work and what can go wrong.

  • ICDs can have as much as a four percent chance of lead failure, meaning that the insulation may be too thick or thin. It is important to stay in touch with your healthcare provider and make sure they monitor any manufacturer updates or warnings.
  • Be wary of ICD necessity: The Department of Justice has been investigating the overuse of ICDs after a major cardiac event. It’s essential that patients do their research and potentially get a second opinion before they opt right in.

Screws, Rods and Artificial Discs: The Spinal Solution

Back pain seems to be more common– and annoying– as houseflies in the summer. Although they’re are varying causes and cures, there are more than 430,000 people with some type of spinal fusion hardware implanted in their backs. The type of implantable device can vary from a simple screw, to a steel rod, to an artificial disc, but all of them carry some risk with their reward.

  • A better alternative: before you’re rushed into having a device implanted, check out other options. Many patients find that decompressive surgery, where part of the bone is simply removed, can solve pain issues.
  • Dicey prices: It costs around $15,000 for the hardware alone to fuse two vertebrae together. Medtronic, a major manufacturer reported 3.4 billion in worldwide sales in one fiscal year. Sadly, patients that undergo this surgery report the least amount of benefit from it. Clinical trials are underway to find better alternatives. In the meantime, if you’re a candidate, make sure you look into all your options very thoroughly, and, with your doctor’s advice, try and hold on as long as you can before undergoing this painful back attack.

Author: Joan Evans

Joan Evans is a mental health specialist and has a great interest in personality disorders. In her spare time she likes to go to the woods with her golden retriever, Leroy, and write fiction.

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