Throughout history, a number of great innovators have worked endlessly to fight pain and suffering, combat disease, and prolong life through the creation of new medical technologies. The technology that has been developed over the past century has now become a staple part of our society. It is very unusual to see a doctor without a stethoscope because the world we live in today has undergone a dramatic change in terms of various technologies. Today, we can find sphygmomanometers in nearly every drugstore and we take technologies such as x-rays and microscopes for granted because we encounter them constantly. These technologies are important in understanding a variety of internal body systems. Without them, our medical experts wouldn’t be able to perform their everyday tasks, essential for the health of all patients.
|A woman taking her blood pressure... in a drug store!|
Before the 19th century, doctors typically used manual techniques to diagnose their patients. The invention of the Hutchinson’s device or the spirometer kicked the new wave of healthcare into gear. It was used to measure the amount of air passing through the lungs. For something so seemingly simple, it can provide a lot of information of a patient’s condition, and help diagnose respiratory diseases. After this, physicians spent more time on the improvement of technological devices to understand the body without having to perform surgery. This period pushed for the creation of thermometers, stethoscopes, ophthalmoscopes, and x-ray. With these medical devices, doctors were able to see and hear internal body parts such as lungs, and hearts. Since the early 20th century, an array of new medical technologies has emerged, changing the face of healthcare forever.
|A group of doctors in the 1800s.|
A recent technological innovation in healthcare is the Cardiac Catheterization, a method of diagnosing coronary distress. The pioneer of this procedure was Claude Bernard, for in 1844 he injected a needle using a mercury thermometer into the heart of a horse to measure its temperature. For the next forty years he used similar techniques to find the horse’s blood and soon, others followed in Bernard’s footsteps to increase the experiment’s efficiency. In modern procedures, a small thin tube (catheter) is passed into a leg vein as a dye travels through the catheter and to the heart, shown by an x-ray. The dye reveals areas of blockage in the heart. . A doctor performing this procedure can get a much better understanding of the patient’s problem without performing surgery.
|The internal flow of cardiac catheterization throughout the body|
Heart conditions can also be diagnosed by electrocardiographs (ECG), used to map electrical fields throughout the heart. ECGs are very common are commonly seen in television or in movies. Without an ECG, a doctor would have a very difficult time accurately assessing one’s heartbeat. Canadian doctors have researched the heart to try and create new innovations such as the artificial heart, as well. An Ottawa doctor, Tofy Mussivand, has looked over the process of creating an artificial heart for patients with heart disease. Dr. Mussivand’s dream can give a good idea of how much technology has truly changed.
|The results of a Electrocardiograph|
Even though there are critics of technology in the healthcare industry (stating it is the reason for rising medical costs), there is no denying that is has let us achieve much more than expected. Technology not only gives us a deeper understanding of the human anatomy, but has added more years to live for the entire population.
|Who knows what the future has in store for medical technology!|