The major challenge in medical implant industry is the knowledge about human body. Had we know the human body and its functions better, we can make better and reliable implants. Below are two examples that I have learned.
Let's start from stent, a small, lattice-shaped, metal tube that is inserted permanently into an artery. The stent opens the narrowed artery so that an adequate supply of blood can be restored. See this FDA site for further detail.
Stent has revolutionized the treatments for cardiovascular disease and the interventional system. However, stent fractures are commonly observed in-vivo in the past years and has become a concern for patient wellness and therefore a challenge/opportunity for mechanical engineering. Both the engineering and the medical care societies have to work together to solve this issue. It is very surprising that little publications are available to study the key issues such as artery deformation, motion, its mechanical properties and its variations among patient age, race, and other factors. As a result, current stents, even they have been proven to be lifesavers for many patients, they are not necessarily a satisfactory product for a mechanical engineer. We can not wait for the medical care society to give us the information because they often concern and focus on different issues than us. In addition, they can not work alone to come up with the necessary equipments. Therefore, we need proactive to interact and help each other to get what we want. The day we know our interventional system better is the day that we can make better stents because stents can only be as good as our knowledge to the interventional system.