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The Bioethics of Implantable Engineered Mechanisms in Orthopedic Surgery
School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
Department of Philosophy and Religion, School of History, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
The ethics of implant technology is a wide-ranging topic in the field of bioethics. This article intends to add to the ethical discourse of implant technology by addressing a new class of implants applicable to orthopedic surgery. These new implants are engineered mechanisms that attach muscles to tendons and bones with the goal of improving postoperative joint function when compared with the state of the art of using sutures to connect biological tissues. This technology has significant engineering and ethical issues including material and device design, determining the metrics to evaluate the implant, validating the procedure, and reducing risk. While considering these engineering issues, we will primarily focus on the following bioethical issues regarding the implants: How will hybridizing the human body, or combining mechanistic and biological components, affect an individual's sense of self and cultural identity? What are the risks and benefits of using these implants and how do they affect a patient's decision to consent to the new procedure? What are the social justice issues of this new implant technology?
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