Health & medicine

Growing up with medical implants

Medical implants may not always be suitable for children, as most are a fixed size and cannot grow in line with the child’s body. Abi Millar runs through some of the ways researchers are addressing this problem.  

Medical implants – which run the gamut from orthopaedic implants to cardiac devices – can be lifesaving for patients. However, when we think about the patients who might benefit, more often than not we’re thinking of adults. Historically speaking, children and adolescents have been an underserved population.

Clearly, the situation will vary depending on what type of implant the child requires. However, there is a key problem with using medical implants in a young patient – the child is going to grow, whereas the implant is going to stay the same size. The implants will therefore need to be replaced at some point, forcing the child to endure multiple surgeries.

While there is a clear need for specially designed paediatric implants, the area has been somewhat neglected simply because the market isn’t large. Children require implants less frequently than adults do, and therefore haven’t reaped the benefits of all the investment and innovation occurring in this space.

It is only relatively recently that medical device manufacturers have grown wise to this problem and have turned their attention to children growing up with implants. Below, we round up some of the key developments in the field.

Read the rest of this article in the April 2021 edition of Medical Technology

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