Medical News Wrap-Up
Advances in Medical Technology
By Steven Joseph
Advances in technology happen at a staggering rate with exponential progress being made across the spectrum of applications. In the field of Medical Technology, these advances are especially important because with every step forward we are living longer, healthier lives, while preventing unnecessary complications and hardships. In addition to saving lives, many of these advances also make our existing surgical procedures and diagnostic techniques more precise and accurate.
When the 3-D Printer was first invented, tech-enthusiasts everywhere were thrilled with the concept of being able to transmit a digital image to a tangible object. Already in use around the world by manufacturing plants, architectural firms, and the automotive industry, the 3-D Printer may soon be earning its M.D. and used in hospitals. Scientists have discovered a way to 3-D print organic tissue infused with living cells.
This advance is already being used to print bones which can be used to replace skeletal sections which have been rendered completely unhealable through traditional methods due to a catastrophic injury. Scientists at Cornell and Nottingham in the UK have managed to eliminate the extreme heat necessary for a traditional 3-D printing to create a room-temperature bone replica which is then infused with living cells.
Printing Bones Seeing Inside
Recently, a clinic in Germany has used iPads in the OR to allow surgeons to view augmented reality versions of their patients prior to surgery. The Microsoft HoloLens creates a digital version of the area being operated on complete with blood vessels and soft tissues in dynamic real time. This will allow surgeons to better plan their incisions and alert them to possible conflicts before they encounter them during surgery.
The iKnife, or intelligent surgical knife, was recently designed in London. The knife runs with an electrical current flowing through it which superheats the blade and minimizes bleeding during an incision. If that wasn’t already progressive enough, the tip of the knife contains an intelligent spectrometer that analyzes the smoke produced by the chemicals in the blood in real time. Doctors will know if a tumor is malignant or benign almost immediately, eliminating the need for excessive biopsies and severely reducing the time of surgical procedures.
The Organs-on-Chip technology has allowed for the creation of microchips which can accurately replicate the reactions of human tissues and systems. Digitizing the human medical experience means that animal testing and lengthy clinical testing can be exchanged for simulating the effects of potential drugs on these chips instead.
As automated robots become more intelligent and their capabilities are enhanced, the concept of a robot nurse is quickly becoming a reality. While no machine can replace the compassion and care a human nurse brings to their patients, robots are inherently capable of lifting heavier objects (such as a patient who needs to be moved from one bed to another), carrying multiple tools and devices at a time (useful during a surgical procedure), and transporting hazardous materials such as biomedical waste.