The idea of implanting electronics in the human body has its disturbing side, but if anybody had any question what will drive the use of body implants – medical uses – then here’s a confirming story. As reported on ABC World News (May 31, 2010), a device called the EndoSure Wireless AAA Pressure Management System, made by CardioMEMS is implanted directly into the pulmonary artery of the patient. The device, about the size of a paper clip, requires roughly 7 minutes to insert. Thereafter, to take a reading the patient passes a wand over their chest, which emits RF waves (like those used in RFID systems), which both triggers and provides energy for the device. The EndoSure device then transmits the patient’s mean heart pressure, systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, heart rate, and cardiac output to a receiver that sends the data to a secure web site for analysis by a doctor.
It’s not hard to understand that a sensory device actually in a major artery can be a lot more accurate than a skin-surface stethoscope. It can also provide insight into the patient’s heart condition more quickly and more precisely than, for example, the method of watching a patient’s weight gain. In fact, in recent trials, the EndoSure device has been responsible for a 38% reduction in hospitalizations over the period of one year. This is a staggering improvement.
This study represents the first major breakthrough in the management of heart failure in nearly a decade,” said William Abraham, one of the co-principal investigators of the study from the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at The Ohio State University Medical Center (Columbus, Ohio USA).
“Identifying early rises in pulmonary arterial pressure is important because it’s the most direct sign of congestion,” said Abraham, adding that until now the only available approach was for patients to monitor weight gain, which has a low sensitivity in predicting heart failure hospitalisations of only 10 to 20 %. “The idea is that if we identify elevated pressures we can quickly treat patients proactively, titrating their medications to bring them back into the normal range, thereby averting episodes of heart failure decompensation where patients often need emergency room admissions.”
[Source: Health Canal]
The CardioMEMS device is now waiting for final approval by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, and similar agencies in other countries. It’s not hard to understand that for patients with congestive heart disease (more chronic symptoms), the inconvenience of a seven minute procedure is far outweighed by the benefits of close and accurate monitoring. It’s also not hard to understand that the borderline between specialized medical use of such implants and the routine use of implants for general health and even entertainment purposes is not far away.