A lot of stories on medical technology focus on futuristic advancements like robot nurses or prosthetics that look more and more life-like. Yet a lot of advancements in medical technology aren’t quite so dramatic on first glance. Some are making big changes to the way that doctors are able to do their work, which improves patient care and outcomes, while other technology is able to advance treatment options.
Here’s a look at some of the exciting new technology being used right now in the medical field:
When your doctor is looking at x-rays or other body scans, it is essential that he has the sharpest picture possible. What seems like a small “shadow” on a scan could be a sign of cancer or another serious health problem.
Advanced panel PCs are now available that provide razor sharp graphics and are housed in a flexible yet rigid casing that can be used in a variety of settings. That means that doctors can mount these computers in the operating room without fear of damaging them. The computers also use little power and do not generate a lot of heat, making them ideal for mobile applications such as triage units.
There are a lot of ethical concerns about animal testing, but doctors have relied on these studies to learn more about drugs and medical treatments. New technology may be able to eliminate the need for animal testing.
Microchips are now being using to model clinical trials, reconstructing organs and showing the reactions between cells. The technology is not able to take the place of actual animal clinical trials completely, but it is a step forward.
Google Glass isn’t just a way to read a book on the subway. Doctors can use it and other wearable technology during operations and other procedures. For example, a surgeon can wear the glasses to get information about the patient’s medical history, to review x-rays or even to see videos or information about a tricky part of the procedure right before performing it.
There are many applications for wearable technology, so this is just the beginning of the possibilities.
3D printing is a burgeoning industry and has applications ranging from home hobbyists to medical care. A printer is able to build a 3D model out of plastic based on graphic designs. Doctors can use this technology to create veins, medical prosthetics, and — maybe one day — whole organs.
3D printing is already being used to make pieces to replace cartilage and bone and to graft tissue. As the technology advances and more materials are able to be printed, there are likely to be many more uses for this type of printing.
Technology has the potential to not just enhance our lives, but to save them. It doesn’t merely give us the means to stay in touch or to watch the latest entertainment. It can also make new treatments possible for a range of life-threatening conditions. We can’t wait to see what new technology will offer us in just a few more years.