8 factors that need to be considered for medical devices translation

Medical device translation services are in growing demand due to globalization and the increase in overseas sales of medical devices. The United States, for example, is a major exporter of medical devices, shipping them to a wide variety of countries where different languages are spoken. Medical device translation is required by the life science industry, and there are many regulations medical device companies need to follow when translating their products. Proper translation in the medical field can save lives.

When medical device companies choose a translation service for their products, they generally have three options: hire freelance translators, use in-house translators or staff members who speak the target language(s), or hire a professional translation company. Listed below are some of the most important factors a medical device company should consider when determining which option to choose.

Start the translation process early

It is generally considered a good idea to hire a translation team early in the medical device development process, as opposed to waiting until the final product has been developed. Bringing in a translation team early in the process gives translators time to become more familiar with the product while performing document translation services for the early stages of product development. This makes translating the documents for the final product much quicker and easier when the time comes.

Understanding the large number of documents that need to be translated for each device

Medical device translation involves translating a wide variety of documents related to the product. These include but are not limited to: hardware, software, firmware, installation and instruction manuals, permits and order forms.

Manuals and Descriptions

  • Instructions for Use
  • Operating Manuals
  • Installation Manuals

Patents and Regulatory Compliance Documents

  • Patents for Medical Devices
  • Patents for Surgical Devices
  • Medical Device Graphic User Interface
  • Regulatory Compliance Documents for US, European Union, and Asian countries
  • Manufacturing Process Descriptions
  • Package Inserts and Labels

Other Translation and Localization Services

  • Website Content
  • Advertising and Marketing Materials
  • Training, Educational Documents, and Multimedia Materials

This high volume of documents that need to be translated is another reason medical device companies should seek a professional translation company as opposed to a single freelancer.

Medical jargon

Medications are often referred to by two different names: a brand name and a generic name (think “Tylenol” and “Acetaminophen”). Medical device translation companies need to make sure that the translators they hire understand when to use the generic name for certain medications as opposed to the brand name. This rule also applies to certain diseases that have a scientific name along with a more colloquially-common name (think “varicela” and “chickenpox”).

Varying and changing regulations

Regulations for medical devices vary from country to country, which is why translators need to be aware of the regulations in their target country or region. To make matters even more complex, regulations are revised and updated on a fairly regular basis even within individual countries and regions.

Translation influences marketing

In addition to being translated accurately and with terminology understood by local populations, medical devices need to be translated with language that makes potential users more confident in their decision to buy the product. Translators need to be familiar with the appropriate marketing language used for medical products.


Translation in almost all fields requires a certain type of certification. In the case of medical device translation services, companies need to make sure the translators or translation service they hire have the latest ISO certification. This is why it is often smart to hire a professional translation company as opposed to a freelancer. Choosing the cheapest translation service instead of the most professional one often costs companies in the long run.

Localization and cultural sensitivity

Understanding the local culture of the target audience is important in all fields of translation. Translators need to be aware of the cultural and religious beliefs of the populations who speak the target language because this can influence the wording used in the translation. This is why it is often best to work with translators who are native speakers of the target language.

Finding translators who specialize in the medical field

The translation industry is a huge industry that encompasses many different fields. As a result of this, most professional translators specialize in a certain field. A translator who specializes in the legal field will likely not be as familiar with medical terminology as a translator who specializes in the medical field. Medical device companies need to be careful not to hire a translator or team of translators who lack experience in medical document translation. In an ideal situation, medical device companies would even train all of their translators on how to use their products to give them a deep understanding of the product and ensure quality translation.

EC Innovations is a great choice for medical device companies looking for a professional translation company. EC Innovations’ medical device translation services are provided by a highly-trained team of medical translators and editors with professional degrees such as MD and PhD, in all major areas of the life sciences. For more than 22 years, our medical translation department has provided professional language solutions to many world-leading medical device manufacturers.

To date, ECI has achieved ISO 13485:2016, ISO 9001:2015, and ISO 1710:2015 certifications. We have 11 strategic offices around the world and operating divisions in Asia, Europe, and North America, offering full localization support into 120+ languages and 260 locales.

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