Clinical practice, health care provision, and medical research cannot be performed without the help of a large variety of medical technologies, from neonatal technologies to technologies of aging and terminal care. Many are the results of recent technoscientific innovations in molecular biology or computer science, or of combinations of biotechnology and information technology. They are used for maintaining bodies with the help of machines, pills, devices, and “foreign” tissues and organs; for representing and visualizing bodies; and for reproductive purposes, both as contraceptive techniques and as techniques for infertility treatment, testing, and screening. Medical technologies evolve within social and political networks. They circulate globally in an international “technoscape” of medicines, devices, machines, procedures, and understandings. Their use may alter existing practices, cultures, and institutional structures, but they are also shaped by them and by a multitude of different actors, including medical professionals, regulators, multinational companies, and patient communities.
body; health care; medical anthropology; medical sociology; technology