Holistic medical practitioners may tell people, in a metaphorical sense, to 'listen to their bodies'. But, with the development of smart implants, biomedical engineers may one day make this literally possible. Take this smart stent
(pictured) for example. It's designed to be placed inside a person’s artery, to monitor blood flow, and to 'talk' wirelessly to an external reader providing continuous updates. Many patients who receive normal arterial stents
– to treat narrowing of the blood vessels caused by the build up of cholesterol
– are at risk of post-surgical re-narrowing (restenosis
), which can ultimately lead to a blockage and an unexpected heart attack or stroke. The new smart stent, which has so far only been tested in pigs, would essentially function just like a normal stent but have the added advantage of being able to alert a patient or doctor to an impending deadly narrowing event.
Written by Ruth Williams