Modern technology is used for many lifestyle conveniences, from our smartphones to our vehicles, but it’s also saving lives every second by advancing our medical science. Technology allows the world’s most state-of-the-art hospitals to catch and treat diseases faster and more efficient than ever.
In this article we’ll take a look at the most recent advance in medical technology, and how medical professionals and patients alike benefit from life-saving science.
There are great strides made in both the detection of different kinds of cancers, as well as the treatment of cancers. The typical goal is to make diagnosis and treatment less invasive and more accurate, as well as preserving the patient’s comfort. In most cases, doctors are trying to eliminate intrusive diagnosis of any kind, in order to avoid unnecessary injury.
Some examples include:
- Digital Tomosynthesis: Used to detect breast cancer, tomosynthesis mammography creates a 3D image of the area, providing medical professionals with a more accurate scan.
- MelaFind: Melanoma remains the most deadly form of skin cancer, but traditionally requires a biopsy which could come back negative and even leave nasty scars. MelaFind is a handheld tool used by doctors to gain more information about a patient, leading to a more accurate diagnosis without the need of a biopsy.
- The Gamma Knife: In an attempt to produce a highly-targeted dose of radiation to patients, the Gamma Knife was created. Despite its name, the Gamma Knife is actually a concentrated beam of radiation, used on target locations without damaging the surrounding tissue.
- Immunotherapy: Put in very simple terms, immunotherapy involves boosting a person’s immune system to fight cancer on their own, or with the help of other treatments. This idea isn’t new, but we’ve only recently had enough understanding of our immune systems to safely take advantage of them.
Like cancer, doctors are always looking for ways to make surgery quicker and less invasive. Surgeons depend on robotic tools and advanced software to guide them through their work, and we as patients benefit from less risk and down-time after an operation.
The best advances in surgery are:
- Telesurgery: Robots have become common in surgical rooms over the past decade or so, and though they become refined all the time, they are not necessarily modern technology. Telesurgery, however, which uses robots to allow surgeons to operate remotely, is a new and exciting technology that is being successfully explored today.
- Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery: This refers to a surgeon entering a patient’s body through another opening to safely and more naturally reach the surgery. This is particularly useful for brain surgery, reducing the need to enter through a person’s skull.
Communications and Networking
The efficiency of communications within a hospital is just as important as the equipment and drugs used to treat the patients. Technology has improved this aspect of hospital productivity in more ways than one:
- Going Paperless: The less paperwork involved in your trip to the hospital, the better for everyone, including the staff. That’s why modern hospitals are replacing paper at every turn- even the nurses carry tablets instead of clipboards. Believe it or not, your medical records are all going paperless too, and for the better. Digitally stored medical records are considered safer, more eco-friendly, and most importantly, efficient for the hospital.
You may already be aware that organs very difficult to come by, and hundreds of thousands of people are on waiting lists across the world to receive life-saving donor organs. Artificial organs allow patients to get the help they need without waiting for a perfect match, and there have been major advances in artificial organs lately.
Notable innovations include:
- Organ-on-a-chip: This one sounds right out of a science fiction novel, but it’s true that scientists have begun creating functional organs using computer chips. While these organs are not nearly complex enough to use inside humans, they can be used to do incredibly accurate drug tests without the need for living subjects.
- Tissue Engineering: On the other hand, you have tissue engineering science which has decided to focus on constructing living tissue into natural organs. This science has a lot of promise, though the complexity of the organ affects the success of tissue engineering. The stomach, for example, is easy to create in a lab, while the heart is much more difficult to grow in its complexity.
Slow But Steady Progress
The research and development of new drugs and tools to help medical professionals save lives costs money and takes lots of time. The world’s brightest minds are on the case, though, making improvements to the way we diagnose and treat patients. We’re far from having the ideal medical science, but we get a little closer every day.
If you need medical treatment, be sure to do research about your medical facility to ensure they’re using top-line medical practices and equipment.
Featured photo credit: Modern Hospitals via lifehack.org