What are surgically implanted medical devices?

A surgically implanted medical device is a man-made product designed to replace a missing biological structure, enhance a damaged biological structure, or enhance an existing biological structure. These implants are usually made of biomedical materials such as titanium, silicone, apatite, plastic, ceramic or other materials that should not interfere with or irritate existing biological structures.

Examples of surgically implanted medical devices include orthopaedic devices such as artificial hips, knees, and shoulders; pins, rods, screws and plates used to hold fractured bones together as they heal; pacemakers, cochlear implants, and drug delivery devices such as stents.

What are the dangers associated with implanted medical devices?

Surgically implanted medical devices are designed to improve a patient’s quality of life. However, sometimes problems arise that lead to complications, pain, illness and even death. These include infection, inflammation, and rejection of the implant. Sometimes, the tissue around the surgical site can become severely infected and there may be a risk of tissue death or blood infection.

Some devices may lead to serious injury or death as a result of a product defect. Device failure can have a lasting impact on a patient’s health. Many failed devices are recalled by the manufacturer. Surgically implanted medical devices that have failed in the past include silicone breast implants, hip replacement joints, artificial heart valves, and surgically implanted mesh.

What can I do?

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