Top 10 Medical Technologies (2)
6. Blood Glucose Monitor
To keep their blood sugar levels close to normal, diabetics need to daily monitor the level of glucose in their blood. 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 test strip generates a numerical read-out. For this diabetic equipment, there are generally two terms to keep in mind:
A blood glucose meter is the device for measuring blood glucose level when a drop of blood is placed on a test strip. Within seconds, the level of blood glucose will be shown on the digital display.
An insulin pump is a medical device used for the administration of insulin, also known as continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion therapy. The pump is an alternative to multiple daily injections by syringes or pen and allows for intensive therapy when used in conjunction with blood glucose monitoring and carb counting.
The stethoscope was invented in 1816 by René Laennec and consisted of a wooden tube and was monaural. Laennec invented the stethoscope because he was uncomfortable placing his ear on women’s chests to hear their heartbeat.
It would not be until 1851 that the stethoscope would become bi-aural. Rappaport and Sprague designed a new stethoscope in the 1940s, which became the standard. Consisting of two sides, the respiratory system and cardiovascular system.
In the late 1970s, David Littmann introduced the tunable diaphragm which raises the frequency bias by shortening the wavelength to auscultate a higher range of physiological sounds.
In 1999, Richard Deslauriers patented the first external noise reducing stethoscope, which featured two parallel lumens containing two steel coils which dissipated exterior noise.
In 2015, Tarek Loubani announced an open-source 3D-printed stethoscope. This 30 cent 3D-printed device reportedly beats the world’s best $200 equivalent and is intended to make the medical device more accessible and obtainable.
8. CT Scanner
Computed tomography (CT) is an imaging procedure that uses special x-ray equipment to create detailed pictures of areas of the body. It is also called computerized tomography and computerized axial tomography (CAT).
The first commercial CT scanner was developed by Dr. Godfrey Hounsfield in 1971 and used computer-processed combinations of many x-ray images to produce cross-sectional images of specific areas of a body section, allowing practitioners to see inside the patient without cutting.
Digital geometry processing is used to generate a three dimensional image from a large series of two dimensional radiographic images taken around a single axis of rotation. However, most modern CT machines take continuous pictures in a helical or spiral fashion rather than a series of pictures of individual slices of the body. Helical CT produce faster and better 3D images of areas inside the body. The newest CT scanners, called multislice or multidetector scanners, allow more slices in a shorter period of time.
9. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI is a medical imaging technique in radiology that uses strong magnetic field, or radio waves, to generate pictures of the anatomy and physiological processes of the body.
MRI is widely used for medical diagnosis, staging, and follow-up without exposing the body to ionizing radiation (like a CAT scan). Unlike a CT scanner, a MRI can differentiate between white matter and grey matter in the brain and can be used to observe brain structures and determine which areas of the brain “activate” during various cognitive tasks.
10. Portable Defibrillator
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is an electronic device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. The portable version of the defibrillator was invented in the mid-1960s by Frank Pantridge, a pioneer in emergency medicine.
AEDs are designed to be simple to use for the everyday person, and the use of AEDs is taught in many first aid, certified first responder, and basic life support (BLS) level cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes.
AEDs are lightweight, battery-operated, and portable devices that are easy to use. Sticky pads with sensors are attached to the chest of the person who is having sudden cardiac arrest.
- Magnifying Glass
The magnifying glass is one of the oldest optical devices known to science. Ancient Egyptians used chips of crystal or obsidian to enlarge small objects. In Rome, Emperor Nero was known to have peered through gemstones at actors on a distant stage. The first constructed magnifier for purely scientific purposes is believed to have been designed by the Roger Bacon in 1250.
Pacemakers use electrical impulses to regulate the beating of the heart. They treat disorders making the heart’s rhythm too slow, fast, or irregular. In 1932, Albert Hyman devised the first artificial pacemaker powered by a hand cranked motor. The device was about 10 inches long, weighed less than a pound; and supplied the heart with an adjustable voltage current. Today, pacemakers are the size of a large coin and implanted near the heart.
- Viaskin Peanut
The National Institutes of Health is publicizing results of a study it sponsored investigating a skin patch designed to treat peanut allergies developed by DBV Technologies. Called Viaskin Peanut, the patch delivers a small amount of peanut protein through the skin, training the immune system to deal with the allergen so that it can handle accidental ingestion of peanut-based products in the future.
This list is only a minuscule fraction of technology that is contributing to some groundbreaking scientific work. There are still numerous devices and innovations that need entries. What are some medical devices missing from the list? Add them to the comments below.