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Updated 22 May 2015

5 very bizarre medical inventions

There's no telling what effect new technology will have on medicine but every so often, a very strange medical device or procedure comes out. These are five of the strangest ones we've heard of...


Medical technology is moving forward at a startling speed. Devices, tests and tools that are available today were beyond people's wildest dreams just a few years ago. In today's world, it feels as though there is a product or gadget for everything, especially if it can assist in addressing a medical issue.

With all these new inventions, there are bound to be a few that blow your mind. These are five of the strangest medical inventions out there:

Read: Device spots bacteria in ear

1. The 'hand job machine'

According to an article in the Daily Mail, hospitals in China are introducing this new device which can extract semen for donors automatically. Dubbed the 'hand job machine'by some, this is definitely one of the most bizarre medical devices available.

The machine can be adjusted to the user's height and has has a massage pipe built in the front. There are a number of different settings that can be changed according to what the user enjoys. These include frequency, speed and even temperature. There is also a small screen on the machine that can play films to get the user in the mood.

The director of Zhengzhou Central Hospital's urology department, said the machine was ideally to be used by infertility patients who struggle to retrieve sperm the natural way.

A website selling the machine for $2, 800 (just under 33 000) per unit claims that, "it can give patients very comfortable feeling."

Watch this video of the sperm extractor:

Read: Pressurised medical devices can be dangerous

2. Brain cells from urine

Disgustingly enough, a new medical procedure can turn urine into human brain cells, according to an article published in Nature.

Duanqing Pei and his team of stem-cell biologists from the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health in China have successfully used cells found in urine and modified them to function as neural progenitor cells, a type of cell found in the brain and spinal cord. According to ListVerse, this process is done using retroviruses.

But why urine cells exactly? Well because they are easily available and don't require any medical procedure to be extracted from the body as urine can simply be collected in a cup. The team also believes that taking the urine from the same person that the brain cells are destined to go to will also improve the success of the procedure.

Read:ADHD diagnosis device approved

3. The "Mermaid" endoscopy device

Third on the list is a tiny endoscopy capsule that is able to propel itself through the body. Commonly referred to as the "Mermaid", this pill-sized device is roughly 4.5 centimetres long and 1 centimetre wide, MedGadget explains.

The device, invented by a team comprised of researchers from Osaka Medical College and Ryukoku University, can 'swim' through the body using a little fish-like tail. The device can either be inserted into the rectum or swallowed. Once inside the body, it works similarly to other endoscopy devices, filming the internal organs it passes through.

Watch this video to learn more about the benefits of capsule endoscopy and how the procedure works:

4. Electric shock underwear

Yes, you read correctly. There is actually underwear available that intentionally shocks the wearer, according to CBS News. While it may sound like some sort of sinister torture device, the underwear actually serves an important purpose - preventing bedsores.

In the elderly, disabled and bedridden, bedsores can be dangerous and even deadly. Bedsores can cause a significant amount of pain and can easily become infected. If this infection spreads it can cause necrosis (death of infected tissue). 

These electrifying undies were designed by a research team at Alberta Innovates Health Solutions and, when worn, deliver a low-level electric shock every ten minutes. The electric current stimulates blood flow in the area, reducing the risk of bedsores, Wired UK reports. Named the Smart-E Pants, these underwear look similar to a pair of cycling shorts. The shorts are going to set you back a pretty penny though. It is estimated that they will cost somewhere in the region of R20 000!

Interested in the Smart-E Pants? Watch this clip to learn more:

5. Levitating artificial lungs

Scientists have already been growing tissue in labs for some time but now lung tissue can be grown whilst levitating in a nutrient solution.

According to NBC News, the lung tissue levitates through the use of nano-magnets placed inside the tissue cells. The cells are suspended in liquid solution of nutrients that feeds them.

The technique was developed by Glauco Souza whilst he was working at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in the U.S. The piece of tissue that Souza developed is very similar to a human bronchiole, the passageways that transport air to all the different areas of the lungs- nifty!

Read More:
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