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Breast-Implant Maker Markets RFID-enabled Products, Services

A physician will be able to read the embedded tag of a patient's implant, in order to identify the model, size and other details about that implant.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 16, 2013

Establishment Labs (EL), a manufacturer of medical breast and body-shaping implants, has begun selling some of its breast implants with a radio frequency identification tag built in, with the goal of providing information about the implant to a patient long after the device has been inserted into her body. The implants, containing passive low-frequency (LF) RFID tags provided by VeriTeQ, are commercially available in Europe. The first customer, a chain of U.K. plastic-surgery clinics, intends to announce its use of the technology next month. Until then, EL says, the clinic operator has asked to remain unnamed.

The full solution, consisting of tagged implants, handheld readers and a database in which records of the implants themselves are stored, along with their tag ID numbers, has been dubbed the Motiva Implant Matrix Ergonomix system.

One of Establishment Labs' RFID-tagged breast implants.
Establishment Labs is a four-year-old Costa Rican business with offices in Florida and Belgium. The company's CEO, Juan José Chacón-Quirós, says his firm was approached last year by Scott R. Silverman, the chairman and CEO of VeriTeQ, which sells RFID tags that can be implanted into a woman's body and then be read through her skin and body tissue, via a handheld reader. The idea of incorporating VeriTeQ's "Q Inside Safety Technology" tags into EL's products intrigued Chacón-Quirós, he says, since he views safety related to breast implants as being a concern to both patients and physicians.

For example, he says, if an implant is placed into a human body, that patient has no way to prove exactly which implant was used, or its make and model. This information can reassure her that an authentic implant was inserted, and could also be important in the event that any adverse effects occur. If a patient were to experience a problem with the implant years after the procedure, it could be difficult to determine the type of implant used, and thus its life span, the materials it contains and other details that can help in resolving that problem. Although doctors may maintain written records of the devices implanted into patients, tracking down that paperwork years later can often prove difficult.

If each implant contained an RFID tag, a doctor who needed to remove one could ascertain, prior to beginning the surgical procedure, the type of implant used and, therefore, how best to remove it. What's more, Chacón-Quirós predicts, a patient would have greater control over her implant, by having access to all available data about it, simply by visiting a doctor equipped with an RFID reader.

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