|The Cleveland Clinic, www.clevelandclinic.org|
Biomedical devices and computer systems were well represented on the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2010 created by a panel of 60 doctors from the Cleveland Clinic. In making their picks, doctors looked for significant patient benefits compared to current practices and a high probability of commercial success. The doctors also chose items likely to be on the market next year and which had sufficient data to support expectations of benefits for society.
The biomedical winners included a mini audio device that transmits sound via the teeth for those deaf in one ear. It consists of a microphone worn behind the ear and a removable retainerlike component that contains electronics and a sealed rechargeable battery. Sounds from the microphone travel wirelessly to the retainer where they are converted into vibrations that can be detected by the teeth.
An additional device on the list was a tracheal cuff that reduces ventilator-associated pneumonia. The device seals a patient’s airway and can be left in place for 30 days. It should replace current cuffs that only partially seal the trachea and let secretions enter the lungs.
Another winner: continuous-flow ventricular-assist devices. One of these devices consists of a 3-oz rotary pump implanted next to the heart and powered by external rechargeable batteries connected through the abdomen. The device takes over pumping for the heart’s left ventricle and generates blood flow using one moving part. The devices are intended as temporary help for patients awaiting heart transplants, but they could eventually act as long-term artificial hearts.
Singled out for diagnosing sleep apnea, sleep monitors can be worn on the wrist and use a noninvasive finger-mounted probe. The probe detects signals that indicate changes in the autonomic nervous system caused by respiratory disturbances during sleep. Signals are stored in a removable memory card and can be downloaded to a computer for analysis. In addition to respiratory signals, the devices also record pulse, oxygen saturation, and rest-activity cycles.
Another noteworthy group of implants reduces the risk of strokes. An umbrella-shaped mesh device is snaked via a catheter through a blood vessel in the groin into the heart’s right atrium. Tissue eventually grows over the implant, closing off the appendage and eliminating the risk of blood clots.
Rounding out the biomedical winners was an image-management system. It will let radiologists and pathologists create high-quality digital slides to be viewed, stored, streamed over the Internet, and analyzed on a computer.