Biomedical engineering

Biomedical engineering is a discipline concerned with the development and manufacture of prostheses, medical devices, diagnostic devices, drugs and other therapies. It is a field that combines the expertise of engineering with medical needs for the progress of health care. It is more concerned with biological, safety and regulatory issues than other forms of engineering. It may be defined as "The application of engineering principles and techniques to the medical field".

X-ray imaging
X-ray imaging

With the prior discovery of the X-ray, it was not until the late 1930’s when researchers began to understand the effects of X-rays on tissues and the electrical properties of tissues. These discoveries lead to X-rays being able to visualize most organ systems, and ultimately it is what produced the modern array of medical imaging technologies as well as virtually eliminating the need for exploratory surgery. These imaging technologies opened the doors to the plethora of biomedical applications now available, effectively evolving the early devices such as crutches, platform shoes, wooden teeth, and the ever-changing instruments in the doctor’s bag into the more modern marvels, including pacemakers, the heart-lung machine, dialysis machines, diagnostic equipment, imaging technologies of every kind, and artificial organs, implants, and advanced prosthetics.

Most biomedical devices are either inherently safe, or have added devices and systems so that they can sense their failure and shut down into an unusable, thus very safe state. A typical, basic requirement is that no single failure should cause the therapy to become unsafe at any point during its life-cycle. See safety engineering for a discussion of the procedures used to design safe systems.

Many biomedical devices need to be sterilized. This creates a unique set of problems, since most sterilization techniques can cause damage to machinery and materials.

Most biomedical devices are completely tested. That is, every line of software is executed, or every possible setting is exercised and verified. Most devices are intentionally simplified in some way to make the testing process less expensive, yet accurate.

Regulatory issues are never far from the mind of a biomedical engineer. To satisfy regulatory issues, most biomedical systems must have documentation to show that they were managed, designed, built, tested, delivered and used using a planned, approved process. This is thought to increase the quality and safety of the therapy by reducing the likelihood that needed steps can be accidentally omitted.

Biomedical engineers operate under two basically different regulatory frameworks. These frameworks directly affect the health of citizens by affecting the development of biomedical devices. See US FDA 510(k) documentation process ( for the US government registry of biomedical devices.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration adopts an adversarial position. It actively regulates individual devices and drugs, and assumes that new therapies are both unsafe and don't work until proven otherwise. This process is not known to prevent unsafe therapies. It is well-known to create a bottleneck in the development process, and the health effects of this bottleneck have been quantified by comparing approval times in the U.S. to approval times in Europe.

Related articles

External links

Major fields of technology Edit (
Biomedical engineering | Biotechnology | Computer Science technology | Electrical engineering | Electronics | Energy | Energy storage | Gaming | Information technology | Machinery | Metallurgy | Microtechnology | Mining | Nanotechnology | Nuclear technology | Space technology | Telecommunication | Transport | Visual technology | Weapons technology
fr:Génie biomédical

pt:Engenharia biomédica ja:医用生体工学 ms:Kejuruteraan bioperubatan tr:Biyomedikal Mühendisliği


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools