A Guide to Implantable Medical Devices

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The quality of life and well-being of various patients with chronic diseases have been positively impacted by active implantable medical devices (AIMDs).  The range and functions of these medical devices implanted surgically in the human body are constantly evolving and expanding.

Physicians implant various medical devices in the patient’s body based on their condition for therapeutic, diagnostic, and rehabilitation purposes. The implantable medical devices market is an exponentially growing sector. The expansion of the medical device market is mainly attributable to the increase in the ailment of the aging population.

In this blog, let’s deep dive into what are implantable medical devices. We will also have a look at the types of medical devices available and what each type does.

What are Implantable Medical Devices?

Instruments that are completely or partially introduced to the body are implantable medical devices. Physicians implant these devices in the body during surgery. These medical devices are kept in the body even after the surgical procedure. Following are a few examples of medical devices that can be implanted into the human body:

1.       Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

  1. Pacemakers
  2. Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)

These devices need to be approved by the regulatory authorities before they can be placed in the human body. For instance, in the USA medical devices need to have Premarket Approval (PMA) approval or 510k clearance from the FDA for use.

Importance of Implantable Medical Devices in Healthcare

Patients’ safety and quality of life will be significantly improved with the right implantable medical devices. These medical devices track important health signs such as heartbeat and blood pressure. If any issue arises, these devices can notify the healthcare professionals or direct the patients to appropriate care.

Types of Implantable Medical Devices

Following are the 3 types of medical devices that are implanted in the patient’s body to improve their quality of life:

1.   Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

An ICD is a battery-powered medical device that monitors a patient’s heart rate. This device detects a chaotic or faster heart rhythm than normal. Once it detects abnormal heart rhythms, it will pass electrical shocks to the heart to bring it back to the normal rhythm.

●       What does ICD do?

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator identifies the heart’s rhythm. This medical device has wires implanted into the heart tissues. These wires deliver electrical shocks, to correct the heart’s rhythms, whenever required.

●       Reasons to Implant ICD

  • It is an essential device for patients at risk for repetitive, prolonged ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.
  • An implantable cardioverter defibrillator restores the heart back to the normal rhythm.
  • ICD assists in preventing sudden death due to cardiac arrest.

 

2.   Pacemaker

Doctors implant a temporary pacemaker post a heart attack episode if the patient’s heart rhythm is too slow.  A pacemaker is not suggested unless there’s serious damage to the heart’s electrical conduction system from the heart attack. If the after-effects of the heart attack do not allow the heart to have normal heart rhythm and rate, a pacemaker is suggested. Pacemaker is also called Artificial Pacemaker. Following are the types of pacemakers available:

  • Medtronic pacemaker
  • Biotronik pacemaker
  • Boston scientific pacemaker

It is crucial to discuss with your healthcare provider to understand which pacemaker would be a good choice for your heart condition.

●       What Does a Pacemaker Do?

A small battery-powered device that plugs wires in the heart tissue to pass electrical impulses to assist the heart to beat in a regular rhythm. This device has wires that are implanted in the heart tissue to send electrical impulses that help the heart beat in a regular rhythm.

●       Reasons to Implant Pacemakers

Medical devices like pacemakers are required when the heart’s natural pacemaker is not able to function properly on its own. The defects in the heart’s natural pacemakers cause the heart to either beat too fast, too slowly, or irregularly. Implanting a pacemaker will help keep the patient’s heartbeat in a regular rhythm.

Pacemakers are also effective if the patient has a partial or complete block in their heart’s electrical pathways.

3.   Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD):

The large muscular chamber responsible for pumping blood out to the body is the left ventricle. LVAD is a surgically implanted mechanical pump-type device powered by a battery. It is implanted when the left ventricle is not capable of pumping sufficient blood to the body on its own. Implanting the left ventricular assist device will help the left ventricle to pump enough blood to the body.  These implantable medical devices are available in the majority of heart transplant centers.

●       What Does the Left Ventricular Assist Device do?

This implantable medical device type pulls blood from the left ventricle into a pump through a tube. The pump passes the blood into the aorta ( one of the biggest arteries of the body that carries blood from the heart to the circulatory system). The pump is implanted inside the chest at the bottom of the heart.

LVADs are used for weeks to months and are portable. Patients can have an acceptable quality of life with LVADs while they wait for a donor heart to be available.

●       Reasons to Implant  Left Ventricular Assist Device

LVADs are also known as a bridge to transplant. However, they can also be used in long-term therapy. Patients might have to wait longer until they find a perfect match for a transplant. There is even a possibility that LVADs eliminate the need for heart transplants. For patients with last-stage heart failure, where heart transplantation can no longer be opted, the left ventricular assist device is used for a longer duration.

Conclusion

There is a substantial increase in the prevalence of chronic and age-related health conditions. This surge in health conditions has fueled the growth of the implantable medical device industry.

Manufacturers of these medical devices are exploring opportunities to integrate the latest technologies like cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence. Integrating these technologies into medical devices has significantly contributed to the advancement of the sector and is expected to revolutionize this space.

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