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The Greatest Medical Device Inventors

The science website QMed recently ran a poll of the greatest inventors of medical devices, dating from the nineteenth century to the present day.

A medical device refers to any instrument, apparatus, appliance, software, material or other article used for either diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. The range is vast – everything from covering tongue depressors, medical thermometers, and disposable gloves to advanced software which assists with surgery; and to a variety of implants, and prostheses.

Reviewing the list, The Latest News has selected the five most interesting medical device innovations. These are:

Beginning with the nineteenth century, our first pick is:

  1. René Laennec (1781–1826)

Laennec was a French medic who is credited with inventing the first stethoscope back in 1816. The device was a simple ear trumpet pressed on the chest; however it led to the modern device now used by doctors on a daily basis.

Moving on to the close of the nineteenth century we next have:

  1. Wilhelm Röntgen (1845–1923)

Röntgen was involved with the discovery of X-rays and he later developed medical X-rays. His surname is used today as a unit of measurement.

From the twentieth century:

  1. John Heysham Gibbon (1903–1973)

Gibbon was the surgeon who invented of the heart-lung machine, which allowed for pioneering open-heart surgeries.

  1. Charles Hufnagel (1916–1989)

Hufnagel, an American, invented the mechanical heart valve in the early 1950s. The device was successfully implanted into a 30-year-old woman in 1952, leading to a new generation of life saving treatments.

Ending with the twenty-first century, we have selected:

  1. Dean Kamen (1951–)

Kamen is more famous for creating the Segway bike. However, he has also come up with the first portable infusion pump for diabetics as well as the Luke prosthetic arm. The bionic arm was dubbed “Luke” after Luke Skywalker.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.