The Future Really Is Bionic: 4 Surgical Procedures You Won't Believe Are Possible
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They’re all groundbreaking medical innovations that have helped patients around the globe for decades—and ones that many of us likely take for granted.
Take sutures: This now commonplace and crucial surgical tool—Johnson & Johnson created the first mass-produced sterile sutures way back in 1887—is used by doctors and surgeons the world over every single day.
So what about the next generation of impressive medical devices that have the potential to reshape healthcare as we know it? We're talking about the kind of inventions that will make you go: Wow! How is that even possible?
Whether you're struggling with GERD or find that you might someday need shoulder surgery, these four innovations could just be part of your bionic future.
A Magnetic Device That Can Help Treat Chronic GERD
Acid reflux is an uncomfortable but common problem in which acid from the stomach irritates the esophagus, causing burning chest pain. It can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as eating a spicy meal or snacking too close to bedtime. Most people experience it only occasionally, and are able to tame the symptoms with over-the-counter medications, but for people who are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux flare-ups tend to be more frequent and don’t always respond well to meds.
There are two traditional treatment options for sufferers of GERD: Medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can be prescribed for people who have milder GERD, and for those with more severe cases of GERD, a surgical procedure is available in which the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus.
During a minimally invasive procedure, the bracelet is placed around the base of the esophagus. After swallowing, the magnetic beads temporarily separate, loosening the band and allowing food and liquid to pass normally into the stomach before closing again, restoring the body’s natural barrier to reflux.Share
This leaves a category of patients without options, says Ethicon, one of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies., Primary Design Engineer,
“About 20 million Americans have chronic GERD, and around 40% of them are in this limbo state where they aren’t getting the effect they want from PPIs, but they also may not want to undergo an invasive surgery,” Huster explains.
During a minimally invasive procedure, the device is placed around the base of the esophagus. After swallowing, the magnetic beads temporarily separate, loosening the band and allowing food and liquid to pass normally into the stomach before closing again, restoring the body’s natural barrier to reflux.
A "Ship in a Bottle" Innovation for Delicate Spine Surgery
By 2020, it's estimated that 3.4 million people annually will undergo spinal fusion surgery, a procedure that entails fusing two or more vertebrae of the spine to help alleviate back pain caused by such conditions as degenerative disc disease. To restore the natural height of the spine, surgeons place a spacer between two vertebrae, and then fill the space with bone graft to help promote fusion of the vertebrae and return stability to the spine.
DePuy Synthes, one of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies, has just debuted next generation technology for this surgery: the Concorde Lift™ Expandable Interbody Device. Unlike traditional, fixed spacers, the Concorde Lift is expandable. You can see it above, shown in its collapsed (left) and expanded state.
“It works like a ship in a bottle, so it enters the space between the vertebrae in a smaller, collapsed state,” explains, Senior Research and Development Group Manager, DePuy Synthes. "And then once it’s in the right spot, surgeons can expand it to the desired height.”
The Concorde Lift offers another benefit: the ability to help maximize bone graft placement, which increases the potential for the vertebrae to fuse together and stabilize the spine.
“Until now, you couldn’t fill expandable cages with bone grafts after expanding them—so this is a game changer,” Saidha says.
Learn more about spinal fusion surgery here.
A New Way to Do Shoulder Surgery With Microscopic Beads
About 53,000 people in the U.S. have shoulder replacement surgery each year, which involves replacing the damaged bones of the shoulder with artificial implants to restore mobility. But in order to qualify for the surgery, patients need to have a healthy rotator cuff to help stabilize the joint.
For patients with a damaged rotator cuff, a reverse shoulder replacement is often performed, which leverages the deltoid muscle, instead of the rotator cuff, to hold the implant in place.
But surgeons frequently find that many patients who need this surgery—especially the elderly—don't have the bone quality to support the number of connectors needed to perform the procedure, which can result in such complications as poor healing and limited range of motion.
The system is made with state-of-the-art Porocoat® Porous Coating—consisting of microscopic titanium beads—which is designed to help attach the bone to the implant, and help the bone fuse back together and heal.Share
So researchers at DePuy Synthes came up with a solution: the Global Unite® Reverse Fracture Shoulder System. The technology, which just became available in the U.S. in May, is the first reverse shoulder implant from DePuy Synthes specifically created to treat shoulder fractures in patients with a damaged rotator cuff.
The system is made with state-of-the-art Porocoat® Porous Coating—consisting of microscopic titanium beads—which is designed to help attach the bone to the implant, and help the bone fuse back together and heal.
"This innovative product has the potential to improve fracture healing,” explains, Research and Development Manager of Shoulder Reconstruction, DePuy Synthes, "and provide new solutions for people needing shoulder replacement surgery."
Learn more about treatment options for shoulder surgery here.
A Tree-Like Device That Can Help Treat Brain Aneurysms
Brain aneurysms occur when there is a weak spot in the wall of an artery that leads to the formation of an outward, balloon-shaped bulge. Over time, as the aneurysm grows, the artery wall can further weaken and burst, which can lead to a life-threatening hemorrhagic stroke.
Physicians can take a variety of approaches to help prevent an aneurysm from rupturing, depending on its size and severity. One is to place tightly woven coils into the aneurysm to keep blood from flowing into it and further enlarging the aneurysm. For aneurysms that occur where blood vessels branch, it can be difficult to keep the coils securely in place if the openings to the blood vessels are wide—known as bifurcated, wide-neck aneurysms. This type of aneurysm requires support for the coils to help keep them in place without blocking blood flow in the vessels.
But there's now a next generation device specifically designed to help treat bifurcated, wide-neck aneurysms, in conjunction with coils: PulseRider®, a first-of-its-kind device that looks like a tree, with two “roots” that anchor the device in place along the main artery wall, and several “branches” on top that work to further support and stabilize the coils.
"The PulseRider device can be easily retracted and repositioned, which helps physicians place it in the right spot," explains, Director of Research and Development, Cerenovus, a Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Company focused on neuro-intervention solutions to treat stroke.
Plus, the device's minimalist shape means doctors can treat only the portion of the vessel needed when performing the delicate, life saving brain procedure.
Learn more about the PulseRider device, including its approval for use as a humanitarian device.