Simulating Smart Medical Implants for the Medical IoT

Digital health technology is taking the healthcare industry by storm and is expected to reach $233.3 billion by 2020, driven particularly by the mobile health market. Connected medical devices and associated services offer safer and more effective healthcare through real-time monitoring of patient adherence, disease state, and procedure recovery. Examples include pill bottles that remind patients when it’s time to take a medication, watches that monitor heart rate and automated insulin pumps that monitor and respond to blood glucose levels. Each of these rely on the premise that early detection of an emerging problem enables a preemptive treatment response, maximizing the chances of successful treatment in the most cost-effective way.  

Ultimately, medical IoT will enable us to live longer and healthier lives. Novel connected medical device examples include Saluda’s closed-loop neuromodulation system for pain management, EBR’s wireless pacing system, neurostimulators from Medtronic, Starkey’s Hearing Aid system or St Jude Medical’s wireless-enabled pacemaker, just to mention a few — all examples of implants with wireless connectivity.

Properly designing antennas for multiple communication protocols is a challenge

Properly designing antennas for multiple communication protocols is a challenge

A key challenge for medical device designers is to understand and optimize the communication between the device and the receiver. Incorporating a radio link in an implanted medical device can increase its range of applicability and improve quality of life for the patient. Developments in support electronics decrease design risk, but the implanted antenna remains a critical component of a communications link that operates at very low received power. Transmitted power is limited both by regulatory restrictions and, for most implanted devices, by power source capacity. Dielectric losses and wave trapping in the body result in transmission losses much greater than seen in free space communications. Small antenna size is required for physiological acceptability. Design optimization must trade antenna size, geometric complexity and material cost against efficiency, as well as operating bandwidth and driving power. Designs must also work in differing body morphologies.  

Simulated radio wave propagation from inside to outside a male human body model. The implant, 3.6 cm under the skin, is transmitting at 2450 MHz.

Simulated radio wave propagation from inside to outside a male human body model. The implant, 3.6 cm under the skin, is transmitting at 2450 MHz.

Pioneering companies like Cambridge Consultants were early adopters of engineering simulation to model the behavior of medical devices and their communication components together with the surrounding environment – and particularly “through-body” communication, where implanted devices communicate with external devices.

Dr. Arun Venkatasubramian, Cambridge Consultants

Dr. Arun Venkatasubramian, Cambridge Consultants

To help us better understand the challenges induced by medical IoT and the solution brought by simulation, I have invited Dr. Arun Venkatasubramian, from Cambridge Consultants and Marc Horner, to discuss the growing importance of connectivity and the necessity of using computer-based modeling to accelerate the adoption and deployment of medical connected devices. Dr. Venkatasubramian  will present a case study that highlights the use of computer modeling to quantify the impact of different body morphologies on implant radio performance. His discussion  will help you determine if the radio performance in your wireless or mobile medical devices are  incredibly successful or just marginally adequate.

ansys webinars this weekTo watch Dr. Venkatasubramian’s presentation and learn more about this important topic, sign up for our June 22 Medical IoT webinar, How Simulation is Assisting with the Adoption of Internet of Things Through the Development of Smart Medical Implants. Also, don’t miss any webinar in our informative Monthly Healthcare Webinar series — you can register for future webinars or view past webinars on demand.

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