CT screening, mobile apps top Cleveland Clinic's medical innovations list

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Cleveland Clinic has unveiled its predictions of emerging technologies that will shape healthcare in the next year. From wearable bionic devices to a concussion management system for athletes, Cleveland Clinic's Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2012 highlight new techniques, therapies and approaches to treating a host of medical conditions.

The list of breakthrough devices and therapies was selected by a panel of Cleveland Clinic physicians and scientists and unveiled during Cleveland Clinic's 2011 Medical Innovation Summit.

The top 10 medical innovations for 2012 are:
1. Catheter-based renal denervation to control resistant hypertension: One in three adults in the U.S. has hypertension, which puts them at significant risk for strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure. In fact, hypertension is the No. 1 risk factor for death in the world. A new 40-minute catheterization procedure, called renal denervation, is approaching resistant hypertension by targeting the renal sympathetic system, which consists of the small nerves that carry signals between the brain to the kidneys. Disruption of these nerve fibers has resulted in improved blood pressure levels, while also showing promise in treating chronic kidney disease, insulin resistance and heart failure.

2. CT scans for early detection of lung cancer: With the introduction of spiral CT, scans can not only identify tumors earlier, but also spot them when the tumors are smaller and more treatable by surgery.

3. Concussion management system for athletes: Head injuries have become such a major medical concern in sports that special patient management tools have been developed. Used by athletes, they instantly detect brain injuries at the moment of contact, and provide patient-specific guidance about when athletes can return to play without risk of further harm. The concussion management system includes an assessment tool used to establish an athlete’s baseline cognitive and motor skills at the beginning of his or her athletic season. The tool objectively and accurately assesses cognitive and motor function simultaneously.

4. Medical apps for mobile devices: Medical applications can help ensure that reliable medical information is always up to date and allow physicians to answer patient queries quickly by accessing data without ever leaving the patient's bedside. Many medical apps also have interactive features that help physicians choose appropriate screening tests for patients and calculate a patient's risk of developing a host of diseases.

5. Increasing discovery with next-generation gene sequencing: The best way to get to the root cause of serious illness is to sequence a person's genome. Geneticists envision a day when everyone's genome will be sequenced and included as a routine part of their medical records. Next-generation sequencing machines can help achieve this goal in the near future with the wider dissemination of faster and affordable sequencing machines.

6. Implantable device to treat complex brain aneurysms: A new minimally-invasive procedure can safely and effectively treat brain aneurysms without open surgery by implanting an FDA-approved device directly into the artery. Consisting of a flexible braided mesh tube made of platinum and nickel-cobalt chromium alloy, this device can be delivered by catheter and used to block off large, giant or wide-necked aneurysms in the damaged internal carotid artery.

7. Active bionic prosthesis: Wearable robotic devices: About nine out of 10 amputations involve the leg, from the foot to above the knee. With advances in prosthetics research in the last decade, space-age plastics and carbon-fiber composites have been engineered to help restore function. The bionic leg with microprocessors and computer chips can rival the functionality provided by biological limbs.

8. Harnessing large data to improve healthcare: Healthcare data requires advanced technologies to efficiently process it in reasonable time, so organizations can create, collect, search and share data, while still ensuring privacy. In this way, analytics can be applied to better hospital operations and track outcomes for clinical and surgical procedures. It also can be used to benchmark effectiveness-to-cost models.

9. Novel diabetes therapy: SGLT2 inhibitors: There are many diabetes medications; most work by affecting the supply or use of insulin. But a new class of drugs ready for prime time represents a paradigm shift in diabetes treatment because they reduce blood sugar in a new way – by causing it to be excreted during urination.

10. Genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce disease threat: Researchers are now exploring new avenues to fight mosquitoes, starting in the laboratory where scientists manipulate the DNA of the insects.

Four major criteria served as the basis for qualifying and selecting the Top 10 Medical Innovations. Nominated innovations were required to:
  • Have significant potential for short-term clinical impact (either a major improvement in patient benefit or an improved function that enhances healthcare delivery).
  • Have a high probability of success.
  • Be on the market or close to being introduced.
  • Have sufficient data available to support nomination.