Precision components manufactured by Johnson Matthey are used in a variety of medical device applications, from the treatment of heart disorders and stroke therapy to orthopaedic trauma cases

Micromachined medical componentsAdvancements in the use of cardiovascular and minimally invasive surgical devices have transformed the world of medicine. Precision components manufactured by Johnson Matthey are used in a variety of medical device applications ranging from the treatment of heart disorders and stroke therapy to orthopaedic trauma cases.

Abnormalities of the heart's rhythm are common and can be detected and / or treated using a number of techniques which use medical devices containing our precision components. One example is the tiny platinum electrodes we make and which are used in pacemakers – an implantable unit that remains in the body and controls irregular heart rhythms.

Using electrodes to restore heart rhythm

Arrhythmias are often caused by abnormal conduction of electricity within the heart. One common type of arrhythmia is called atrial fibrillation where parts of the heart cannot contract in an organised pattern. Electrophysiology treatments have emerged where surgeons can diagnose and repair these heart rhythm problems using a catheter that contains small Johnson Matthey-made electrodes that help restore normal heart rhythm. During the procedure, devices containing our high precision platinum alloy components deliver an energy burst which heats and destroys small areas of heart tissue which cause the rhythm disorder.

The components we manufacture for this application are incredibly small – typically less than 2mm diameter

The components are also highly specialised and have features which perform crucial functions during the procedure. The alloy material is suitably conductive to deliver the energy to the area where it is needed. In addition, some electrodes are designed with multiple microscopic size holes which help measure and control the level of heat the surgeon applies from the catheter to the treatment area.

Cardiovascular and minimally invasive surgical procedures offer many benefits – they reduce risk and trauma, as well as cost, time and the need for aftercare. As people live longer and have increasingly unhealthy lifestyles, the use of this type of surgery looks set to grow. High precision precious metal components from Johnson Matthey are an integral part of many medical devices and, every day, our products help bring quality of life benefits for people around the world