• Why Tiny Electronics Are Having a Huge Impact on Medical Technology

    Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are already used for an array of applications in medical devices, many of them related to sensing, diagnostics, micro-fluidics and drug delivery. This is just scratching the surface of what is possible. Potential breakthroughs on the horizon include the use of silicon microneedles, which could be used to treat diabetes and implantable MEMS sensors that could track everything from cardiac function to cranial pressure.Chris Folk will be speaking on MEMS and...
  • How the FDA and Device Industry Can Collaborate to Spur Innovation

    Dale WahlstromEver heard of the FDA’s Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories? Not many medical device designers and experts raised their hands when Dale Wahlstrom of LifeScience Alley asked that question during his keynote address at MD&M Minneapolis.It turns out that this little-understood office corrals academics and private researchers to reproduce the research provided by medical device companies to make sense over which company is right and which is wrong.“They have a test, and...
  • Medical Device Tubing: Polymer Solution Casting vs. Extrusion

    While countless tubes are extruded or injection molded each year, these manufacturing techniques are neither the most optimal nor the most cost-effective methods available to medical device manufacturers. At least that’s the word from Avalon Laboratories (Rancho Dominguez, CA), whose polymer solution casting technology can be used to manufacture flexible plastic components without resorting to conventional extrusion or injection-molding processes.A coil-reinforced catheter with introducer is...
  • How Medtronic Made a Supplier a Better Partner

    Medtronic product development teams in recent years were grappling with the fact that they knew they could improve their system for freezing tissue inside the heart to treat abnormal heart beat. But the supplier for the refrigerant spraying technology inside the catheter balloon had run out of options to improve it.“When you’ve already reached to the limit of the technologies it became challenging,” says said Dan Wittenberger, senior principal and R&D engineer at Medtronic CryoCath in...
  • Medtronic Exec: Device Startups Need to Get Serious About Materials

    Lack of materials knowledge is an issue among medical device startups, and it is going to hurt them down the road, says Mark Breyen, senior director of core technologies at Medtronic.“They’re just making simple choices on materials, often because they’re just trying to start up. They don’t have the bandwidth to really explore and go deep like we do. And then they don’t have a lot of downside. … When your revenue’s zero, what do you have to lose?” Breyen said Monday during a talk on determining...
  • Making Mind-Controlled Medical Devices Work

    Professor Bin He of the University of Minnesota delivered a keynote address on mind-controlled medical devices at MD&M Minneapolis. Mind-controlling a robotic arm without an electrode stuck in the brain is possible, but it requires extremely sophisticated readings and translations of electroencephalography (EEG) signals, says Bin He, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis).There are even significant challenges when electrodes are actually used for...
  • Upping Combo Product Drug-Residence Times to Fight Infection

    By Bob Michaels, Senior Technical EditorThere are two classes of drug-device combination products, explains Lisa Jennings, professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (Memphis) and founder/CSO of Ariste Medical Inc. (Memphis). The first class includes bioresorbable implants or materials that are thought to minimize or control infection, including biologics and polypropylene or expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) meshes, while the second includes such devices as drug-...
  • Medtronic Takes It One Step at a Time on Insulin Pump Innovations

    It is probably one of the biggest medical device technology debates going on right now: Is Medtronic’s MiniMed 530G, its first-generation artificial pancreas, really a game changer?The answer is that the MiniMed 530G represents something between an incremental evolutionary step and a big leap forward.The MiniMed 530G can stop insulin delivery when sensor glucose levels reach a defined threshold.The smart insulin pump automatically stops insulin delivery when glucose levels in the blood fall...
  • Combo Products: Infection Busters

    By Michael Drues, President, Vascular Sciences (Grafton, MA)While combination products are being developed for a host of different medical device applications, their use in infection prevention applications is still in its infancy. But looking to the future, combo products may one day be assembled not on the manufacturing floor but at the patient’s bedside.Infection is a big problem on many levels, not the least of which is an economic one. Ironically, I can’t help but point out the fact that...
  • Modifying Device Surfaces Is Key to Future Infection Control Strategies

    By Bob Michaels, Senior Technical Editor“By definition, all antimicrobial-coated devices are combination products,” explains Marc Mittelman, senior managing scientist, occupational and environmental health, Exponent (Menlo Park, CA). “Thus, if a catheter is coated with silver—probably the most common type of coating today, particularly for urinary catheters—that’s considered to be a combination product. It combines an antimicrobial and an underlying device.”For the most part, device-...
  • An iPod for Asthmatics

     Over a decade ago, Garth Sutherland, a New Zealand-based engineer with more than 20 years of experience in the tech sector, wondered why technology had not been applied more effectively to the asthma monitoring and COPD space. Both conditions have no cure and can severely affect the quality of life of those suffering with the diseases. In the United states, COPD is the third leading cause of death, according to the CDC. Asthma, too is a severe problem. In 2010 in the United States, more...
  • Europe's Regulatory Dilemma: More Stringent Device Approvals Could Be Coming

    A day before the European Parliament is scheduled to vote on adopting a more FDA-style method of medical device regulation, the continent’s consumer organization BEUC is trying to put a human face on the issue with a video of medical device horror story testimonials.The video includes some pretty sad stories. A Belgian woman Dora, for example, went with a “plastic carpet” to correct a prolapsed uterus — a uterus that had slipped out of place. Dora says in the video that the pain from the...
  • 5 Highlights of BIOMEDevice San Jose

    At BIOMEDevice San Jose, wireless technology for medical devices will take center stage. Slated for December 4–5, the conference portion of the event will take on the subjects of consumerization and product development as they relate to mobile-enabled medical devices.Orlando Portale, chief innovation officer at Palomar Health will discuss the medical applications of Google Glass.The opening keynote for the conference will consider the medical applications of Google Glass. In the address,...
  • Understanding Permanent Magnets in Biomagnetic Separation

    Understanding how constituent magnetic fields affect the final position of retained magnet beads, particularly in high throughput screening (HTS) applications, is important when developing protocols for DNA synthesis or laboratory testing. Biomagnetic separation is a simple and effective tool because magnetic beads and the target biological entities are suspended in fluids which have low magnetic permeabilities and which therefore do not impede the applied magnetic field. In addition, the...
  • Accelerometers: New Weapon in the Fight Against Head Injuries

    In the past couple of years, researchers have increasingly warned that sports-related head injuries could leave athletes disabled later in life. For example, a study last year by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that professional football players had triple the risk of dying from diseases that destroy or damage brain cells than other people and a four times greater risk of dying from Alzheimer’s or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s...
  • A 12-Lead ECG for Everyone

    Electrocardiograms provide a tested method of diagnosing a variety of cardiac health problems. While some ECG systems are available for home use, no consumer-grade devices can provide the same level of accuracy as ECGs found in a cardiac lab or other healthcare facility. However, that may change in the future.As of now, portable ECG systems are offered by companies like ECG Check and AliveCor, with both have received FDA clearance. However, most of these devices are single-lead ECGs as opposed...
  • This Oscilloscope Can Read Your Pulse

    Taking a pulse is as easy as holding a finger to one’s wrist. However, it can be difficult to determine one’s pulse accurately without the use of traditional medical equipment. At Makezine, several inventors created a novel pulse reader from an oscilloscope for the task. At Makezine, inventors created a basic device that can translate mechanical motion into an electrical signal. The device, designed to read the amount of blood circulation through infrared light, can accurately determine an...
  • A Unique Device for Buzzing Away Pain Gets Noticed

    A device, dubbed Buzzy, can disrupt pain signals as they travel to a person’s brain. The product was recently featured on NPR and, in 2011, was the recipient of the Medical Design Excellence Awards in the "Over-the-Counter and Self-Care Products" division. Buzzy is a small, fist-sized device that is placed on a person’s skin next to the site of an injection. The device includes a specialized ice pack and a vibration mechanism. When Buzzy is activated, it starts to vibrate. Based on a...
  • How Medtech Can Address its Defect Problem

    Defects are rising sharply in the medical device industry as a recent Axendia study indicates. In addition, medical device recalls recently hit a five-quarter high. A few main reasons contributing to these trends are increasing device complexity, software errors, and the complexity of outsourcing production. In consumer electronics, these issues are ongoing occurrences. The CE industry must constantly innovate and break new ground to keep retail placement (6-month resets) and...
  • Developing Novel Biomaterials Means Taking Smart Risks

    Peter D. Gabriele“When developing novel materials for the medical device market, the decision point for a company going forward is to take risks or do nothing at all. Essentially, you must accept the courage to fail.” With this thought in mind, Peter D. Gabriele, vice president, emerging technology at Secant Medical Inc. (Perkasie, PA), insists that the old paradigms for developing materials no longer hold water because medical device companies cannot contribute to the regenerative medicine...