Since the advent of computer technology, medical equipment technology has been making leaps every day. Technology that we once thought would come many years into the future is being developed and implemented now. Here are 5 recent and important developments in medical technology.
Ultrasound Imaging on Your Phone
Ultrasound machines are still relatively clunky and heavy. But with the help of a $100,000 grant from Microsoft, researchers at Washington University have created the first ever portable ultrasound machine that fits in the palm of your hand by combining the Microsoft smartphone with USB-based ultrasound probe technology. With the device patient data from remote locations can be sent to specialists via phone instantly, and they can in turn study the data and send back a diagnosis.
New Prostate Treatment: Cavitation
Treatment of prostate growths is traditionally invasive, painful and not always effective. At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, however, urologists have developed a new method of treating prostate growths by using highly focused microwave pulses. When these pulses reach the growth, they create bubbles of dissolved gas from prostate tissue. When these microscopic bubbles explode, they create a shockwave, which dissolves the growth. This shockwave effect is called cavitation, and not many thought that it could ever be controlled with such precision.
Liver cancer treatment involves either surgery or transplant. But a third option is now available at the UC San Diego Medical Center. It’s called microwave ablation and it involves inserting a thin needle into the cancerous tumor and then emitting hot microwaves into it, causing it to die after about 10 minutes. The potential to use microwave ablation to treat other types of cancer is being studied.
High-res gamma cameras have become one of the most useful tools for the diagnosis of breast cancer. Other imaging techniques did not provide sufficient detail to fully detect cancer in some instances. Brest-specific gamma imaging (BSGI) is helping doctors detect cancer cases that would have otherwise remained overlooked.
Engineers at Duke University are working to bring about the advent of robot surgeries, unassisted by human hands. By using a rudimentary tabletop robot and 3D ultrasound imaging along with an artificial intelligence program, they built a robot that can perform basic surgical tasks on its own. Though far from practical yet, their robot marks one of the first steps towards this space age dream of someday having robots that perform all kinds of medical procedures, especially in places not immediately accessible to humans.