Rabbits pilot wireless medical implants

iStock_000003396050SmallMedical advances over the last several decades have resulted in implantable devices that can improve the quality of human and animal lives. The pacemaker and neurostimulator are two of those devices, and with the help of rabbits, researchers are on their way to making some amazing improvements!

When a patient has one of these devices implanted, it’s understood that they will need follow-up surgeries at certain intervals to replace the battery. Pacemaker, neurostimulator, and spinal cord stimulator batteries last, on average, 5-10 years. But recently, researchers have been able to regulate a rabbit’s heart with a pacemaker that operates off wireless energy! This specific implant is only 3mm long. You can imagine the reduced recovery time after a surgery to implant something this size!

While some doctors are skeptical of life-supporting devices relying on external power, researchers are working to adapt this technology for other types of implants as well. Neurostimulator and spinal cord stimulator batteries tend to be about half the size and thickness of a deck of cards, and often, patients experience a good amount of pain at the battery implantation site. Eliminating the need for a battery for these units could make a huge difference for patients- let’s hope that this technology proves successful!

Do YOU have a battery-powered implant? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts- do you think this technology will help you?

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25590-wireless-energy-powers-pacemaker-in-live-rabbit.html#.U4J2ifldWSq

7 thoughts on “Rabbits pilot wireless medical implants

  1. Anonymous

    Yes I’ve had a SCS for over 23 years with and without a battery. To me they are no big deal , guess it certainly would be nice not to have to charge it for sure . I do hate using rabbits though for medical investigation

    1. Science Kicks Ass Post author

      Thanks for visiting! Hopefully, some day, animals won’t be necessary in research. For now, though, they’re really important, and researchers can learn things that wouldn’t be possible in a human. For this particular technology, animals were needed because with something as critical as a pacemaker, it wouldn’t have been possible to do early tests in humans. In cases where there are alternatives, animals aren’t used in research. But if the ultimate outcome helps save lives (in this case, by reducing the number of surgeries for patients), I’m thankful that researchers are able to work with animals for medical progress. :)

  2. Julie

    I have a spinal cord stimulator and this technology would be amazing! The battery life on my unit is 9 years, so even though the SCS is working pretty well to help with pain management, I have a shadow hanging over my head because I know that I’ll have to have future surgeries to replace the battery. And those aren’t pleasant surgeries! So I am really excited about this, and I’m hoping that in the future, this technology can also be adapted to fit existing implants. It would be great to go in for a battery change and be able to have them remove the battery and update the unit with a wireless chip or something like that. This is great!

    1. Science Kicks Ass Post author

      That would be great! It will be interesting to see how this progresses- I’m sure that if further trials proceed, there will be a lot of demand to fit current devices with this technology.

  3. aymond

    I’m happy with the medical advances like implants to prolong the lifespan of men but I’m just not in favor of using rabbits unless the rabbit really needs it.

    1. Science Kicks Ass Post author

      Thanks for visiting! At this point in time, animals are often the best models for disease that researchers have available. And actually, research with animals often leads to extremely effective treatments for our companion animals!

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