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February 22, 2007

Naming Cardiac Stents

In her A Hearty Life blog this past Monday, Hsien-Hsien Lei, PhD asked us if we could provide some insights into the process of naming cardiac stents.

As Christopher Snowbeck of the St. Paul Pioneer Press pointed out in his February 19th article, there’s a long tradition of naming medical devices for their inventors.

stent.gifThe term “stent” itself comes from the name of a nineteenth-century British dentist, Charles T. Stent. His name, in turn, appears to be related to the Latin verb for “to stand,” from which we get the word “status.” If true, that makes “stent” a doubly appropriate name, since anything Latin has a scientific ring to it.

Professional naming companies work with clients to develop names that appeal to a new product’s target market. In most respects, naming a cardiac stent is like naming any other product. Because it’s a medical device, names based on Greek and Latin roots might be more appropriate than those derived from other languages.

Because surgeons have more influence than patients do on the purchase of stents, it’s worth considering any advantages a new stent has for the doctor, as well as benefits for the patient. Because stents are used to treat life-threatening conditions, a frivolous name would be inappropriate.

Within the community of surgeons and medical researchers, naming a product after its inventor is both attractive and effective. In a small community of specialists, everyone knows everyone else. A well-known inventor’s name brings brand-recognition to the new product—at least among the people who matter most when the product is first released.

Outside of that first generation of consumers, a name like “Stent” or “Palmaz” has less meaning. And as long as the name meets federal requirements regarding its claims of effectiveness, any kind of name is possible.

A few of my own favorites are names which suggest benefits without being too literal:

  • Assurant

  • Symphony

  • Fluency Plus

But I wouldn’t refuse the offer to name the product after me.

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Posted by Diane Prange at February 22, 2007 11:31 AM
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