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NIH Conference to Assess State of Medical Implants Research Information on Implant Performance Lacking in the U.S.

For Immediate Release:
December 17, 1999

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will hold a Technology Assessment Conference (TAC) to look at barriers and opportunities to developing systems for implant retrieval analysis and data banking. The TAC will be conducted January 10-12, 2000 in the Natcher Conference Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

It is estimated that 8 to 10 percent of the American population currently has a permanent medical implant. Retrieving and evaluating medical implants provides the only true long-term data on how a patient's body responds to hosting an implant, as well as the final condition of the implant. Even so, there has not been any systematic effort developed in the United States for implant retrieval analysis or data banking. The objective of the conference is to assess the opportunities and challenges to developing a framework for independent research of medical implants retrieved after surgery or at autopsy.

Titled, "Improving Medical Implant Performance Through Retrieval Information: Challenges and Opportunities," the conference will bring together specialists in surgery, pathology, engineering, biomaterials, information systems, and other related disciplines, as well as representatives from the public, legal, ethical, and industrial communities.

The conference will address the following key questions:

  • What are the patient, health care provider, and societal expectations of the lifetime costs, risks, and benefits of medical implants?
  • What can the role of information data systems be in educating the public, medical community, and policymakers about medical implants and retrieval?
  • What are the legal, ethical, religious, cultural, public policy, and economic barriers to implant retrieval and reporting, and how can they be overcome?
  • What information is necessary to evaluate and improve implant and material performance and device design?
  • What future research and institutional support is necessary to ensure continuing advances in implantable devices?

The lead NIH agencies sponsoring the conference are the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the Office of Medical Applications of Research (OMAR).

After all presentations and audience discussions, an independent, non-Federal technology assessment panel co-chaired by Edward N. Brandt, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., Regents Professor and Director, Center for Health Policy, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and Julia Weertman, D.Sc., Walter P. Murphy Professor Emerita, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, will weigh the scientific evidence and write a draft statement that it will present to conference attendees.

Following discussion of the draft statement by conference attendees on January 12, the panel will meet in executive session to finalize their statement. A press conference from 1:00-2:00 PM on January 12 will conclude the Technology Assessment Conference.

For a list of presenters, to see the agenda, and to register to attend the January 12 press conference visit the TAC Web site at Be sure to prominently indicate that you are registering for the press conference.

The Technology Assessment Conference will be videocast, live, January 10-12, 2000 and can be accessed via the NIH Videocast Web site at A minimum 150kpbs is required.

To register to attend the January 12 press conference, you can do so online at or by calling 301/592-3320. Identify yourself as a member of the press.

Members of the press who are unable to attend the press conference can participate by using the toll-free line (800/CHAT-121) to ask questions of the panelists or presenters. Questions will be audible to on-site conference attendees, as well as those watching the videocast.

If you plan to participate "virtually," call the NHLBI Communications Office at 301/496-4236.