Medical Device | Nashville Public Radio

Medical Device

Hip and knee replacements have become one of the most common surgeries in the U.S.
Credit Blake Farmer / WPLN

Implantable medical devices are increasingly used to treat ailments, ranging from back pain to seizures. Hip and knee replacements are now among the most common surgeries in the U.S.

Blake Farmer / WPLN

Imagine a surgeon scouring the web for how-to videos during a complex procedure. It happens, especially in the ever-evolving and rapidly growing world of implantable medical devices.

So now, a virtual reality system is trying to help surgeons prepare to use all the new equipment available to them.

courtesy Business Wire

A Swiss maker of implantable medical devices is moving its U.S. headquarters from Chicago to Franklin. The company represents a sector that has been largely absent from Nashville's health care industry.

There's no doubt that surgically implanted medical devices can improve lives.

Hip and knee replacements can help people regain their mobility. Drug pumps can deliver doses of pain-relieving medicine on demand. And metal rods can stabilize spines and broken bones.

But implanted devices can also do serious damage, as happened to Mechel Keel, who lives in Owosso, Mich.

To fix her leaky bladder, an OB-GYN stitched a flexible mesh strap inside her pelvis in 2004. But within months the mesh hardened and started cutting her insides.

Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner / U.S. Air Force

Pharmaceutical companies are trying to police so-called "bad drug" ads, starting in Tennessee. The state legislature is advancing a bill that would restrict advertising meant to recruit people harmed by medication or medical devices.

courtesy Mechel Keel

There's no doubt that surgically implanted devices improve lives — drug pumps, nerve stimulators, spinal rods. But the devices can also do serious damage, like they have to Mechel Keel.

"It ruined my life, yes it did. I'm sitting here with tears," the 59-year-old grandmother says.

Zdenko Zivkovic / via Flickr

Tennessee will get a small slice of a $120 million nationwide settlement over defective hip replacements. States accused Johnson & Johnson of misleading patients about the safety of metal-on-metal hips.

Blake Farmer / WPLN

In an operating room, there's the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, a surgical tech and a scrub nurse. And in many procedures that involve an implanted medical device, there's often someone else standing quietly along the back wall — a sales representative working on commission for the maker of artificial joints or bone screws.

With the exponential growth of procedures like total hip and knee replacements, their presence is under new scrutiny.