Medical Devices that Changed the World – Part II

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With the continuous progress in medical science, today we are able to monitor our own health right at the comfort of our homes. Today, even a robot can perform a heart surgery without the doctor being physically present in the operation theater. Medical devices of today have improved drastically over the years to diagnose diseases and accurately measure vital health parameters. We continue with our previous post with some more important medical devices that have helped us not only to combat life-threatening diseases but also have helped us to lead better lives.

LED PHOTOTHERAPY

Affecting 60 percent of newborns, hyperbilirubinemia, more commonly known as jaundice, is caused by the buildup of bilirubin, a liver by-product that is often found in high levels in newborns. If left untreated, bilirubin can spread into the brain, where it causes long-term damage. The solution is surprisingly simple: Phototherapy, which involves shining blue LED light on a baby for approximately three days, converts bilirubin into a water- soluble form that can be excreted from the body.

DRUG-ELUTING STENT

A stent is a metal scaffold inserted into a narrowed peripheral or coronary artery to improve blood flow to the heart. Interventional cardiologists deliver the stent into an artery using a balloon Angioplasty procedure, which expands.4nd locks the stent in place. Drug-eluting stents can be coated with drugs that are slowly released into the arterial wall to prevent scar tissue formation during the healing process. Although some controversy remains, they were approved by the US Food & Drug Administration after clinical trials showed that they were more effective than bare-metal stents in preventing repeat interventions, heart attacks and death.

Also Read: Can we Cure Death and Create Life From Scratch?

BLOOD GLUCOSE

To keep their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible, diabetics need to monitor the level of glucose in their blood at least once a day. Current technology to measure glucose in the blood includes the use of a portable testing meter called the blood glucose monitor. Using the device, a finger prick blood sample applied onto a chemical test-strip generates a simple numerical read-out within seconds. More sophisticated blood glucose monitors in development include a non-invasive glucose breathalyzer device and an implantable real-time glucose sensor that also releases insulin in a responsive manner.

BIONIC EYE

Designed in Australia, the Bionic Eye helps people with severe vision loss see again. It is comprised of a tiny digital camera, an external processor and a microchip surgically implanted in the back of the eye. Electrodes on the implanted chip stimulate cells in the retina, and visual information is transmitted via the optic nerve to the brain. The current prototype has 24 electrodes and delivers visions of basic shapes and flashes of light. Still under development, the High-Acuity device has 1,024 electrodes and may enable people who are suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration to recognize faces and read large print.

3D BIOPRINTING

China’s first 3D bio-printer, Regenovo, is capable of printing living tissue in under an hour using cells encapsulated in water-based hydrogels. Developed by Prof. Xu Ming-En and his team at Hangzhou Dianzi University in China, the futuristic device deposits layers of biological blocks to create living tissue. While the technology is still in its infancy, the team has successfully printed functional, miniature kidneys made up of living human cells. 90 percent of the kidney cells survived in the hydrogel scaffold for up to four months, making it a promising new approach in regenerative medicine.

NANOPATCH VACCINE

Who doesn’t like the idea of a needle-free vaccination? Australian inventor Prof. Mark Kendall has developed a vaccination patch that, within a minute of application, can deliver adequate amounts of vaccine across the skin with only a fraction of the conventional dose. The Nanopatch is made from silicon wafers containing small micrometer spikes dry-coated with vaccines. At less than US$1 per patch, it promises to be more economically feasible than current needle and syringe technology.

The future looks bright with more and more sophisticated technologies being brought forth in the medical field. With the ever growing need to put more focus on funding the research and development of devices which would help in eradicating diseases which still don’t have any cure, the governments all around the world have a daunting task ahead of them.

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