How is it October already? Soon it’ll be November and time to VOTE (don’t forget!)
Every year since we started the AcKnowledge RS blog, we’ve dedicated a month to medical devices that have not yet received FDA approval. It’s an easy way to see what cool things people are inventing, and maybe give you a small glimpse into the future. Who knows, you might be able to “ask your doctor whether Device XYZ is right for you” in the next few years!
This week we’re focusing on an implantable biochip by a company called NERv Technology Inc. This bioresorbable chip aims to help detect postsurgical complications by identifying internal bleeding, leakage of bodily fluids, and infection within the abdominal cavity. As described at the ne-rv.com website:
“NERv’s biosensors are predictive. They collect data and identify a specific kind of complication as soon as it develops. The biosensors provide information before the complication reaches a critical stage. NERv’s biosensors provide a preventative approach to post-operative care by identifying a complication as it is developing and preventing the development of further complications.”
A medical device that might be able to predict the future in order to prevent critical post-operative complications!? Someone call Tom Cruise and let him know Minority Report needs a remake!
Over 7,000 individuals die every year due to the failure or late detection of post-operative complications. Postsurgical or post-operative complications can result from the operation itself or other unrelated factors. Post-operative complications cause longer hospital stays and increased healthcare costs, not to mention the suffering that many patients (and their families) may go through. While it depends on the surgery, some common complications include pneumonia, internal bleeding, deep vein thrombosis, infection, and pulmonary embolism. The clinical signs of disease are often blurred in the postoperative period. Early detection of postoperative complications requires repeated evaluation of the patient by the operating surgeon and other team members, which can be time consuming and laborious for everyone involved. Additionally, some of these complications take days or weeks to show up, often well after you’ve gone home to recover. The current methods for detecting post-operative complications include imaging techniques like CT and MRI scans, as well as lab tests which are only performed once the patient has demonstrated certain symptoms…and these all of course take you out of your comfy recovery chair at home and bring you back to the hospital. Which is good if you do need to go to the hospital, and not-so-good if it turns out to be an unnecessary visit.
How does the device work?
The NERv biochip is about the size of a shirt button, and is implanted into the body during surgery. As soon as a complication develops post-surgically, the chip is able to detect it and collect information about its status. The data are sent to a receiver located in a trans-dermal patch placed on the wound after surgery. While the patient may receive a simple alert notification so that they are able to seek medical care right away, the physician will get a more detailed analysis of the patient’s status. The biosensors in the chip have demonstrated to be very sensitive; able to detect even small changes of specific biomarkers associated with these complications. Physicians will also be able to get information on the kind, location, and severity of the complication. Made of bioresorbable materials, the biochip sticks around for a month before it is broken down by the patient’s body, thus avoiding another surgery to have it removed.
We’re excited to see medical devices like this being developed! We look forward to keeping tabs on NERv…and watching this technology get to market and safely into patients!