A medical device is an instrument, apparatus, implant, in vitro reagent, or similar or related article that is used to diagnose, prevent, or treat disease or other conditions, and does not achieve its purposes through chemical action within or on the body (which would make it a drug). Whereas medicinal products (also called pharmaceuticals) achieve their principal action by pharmacological, metabolic or immunological means, medical devices act by other means like physical, mechanical, or thermal means.
Medical devices vary greatly in complexity and application. Examples range from simple devices such as tongue depressors, medical thermometers, and disposable gloves to advanced devices such as computers which assist in the conduct of medical testing, implants, and prostheses. The design of medical devices constitutes a major segment of the field of biomedical engineering. The global medical device market reached roughly $209 billion in 2006.
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