We have come a long way since the days of trephination and leeching: if the physicians of old were able to see modern surgical procedures and medicines in action, they would no doubt perceive these as acts of magic;
Going forward, there are a number of important discoveries which have recently been made in medicine that look set to change the face of healthcare forever;
Let’s take a look at three such technologies which are showing promising results and which could one day be implemented in hospitals across the globe…
Less Invasive Aortic Valve Surgery
Getting a new heart valve installed is a procedure which can lead to all kinds of complications: and, as with all invasive open-heart surgeries, the recovery time can be lengthy, as well as stressful to the patient;
These days, surgeons are working on methods of replacing heart valves using catheterisation: i.e. feeding a long line through the blood vessels of the groin in order to transport tools to the heart in a minimally invasive manner.
The bonus of using this type of less invasive method is that recovery time looks set to be decreased and individuals who would be unable to receive conventional valve replacement (due to an inability to cope with the trauma) could be treated for the first time.
If you have ever been bitten by a mosquito, chances are you will only realise it once the insect has long since flown away: the fact that a small creature such as this is able to effectively puncture human skin and extract blood without the person even realising it is testament to the remarkable sharpness of their mouthparts;
Modern technology has now allowed experimental needles to be developed, which are based on the design of mosquito mouthparts: instead of a single metal needle, three smaller piercing needles work together via application of piezoelectric charges.
By imitating nature, the hope is that one day advances in needle technology could make painful blood extraction a thing of the past.
Silk-coated biodegradable electronic medical implants
Imagine getting a device implanted which could fully dissolve and be absorbed into the body after a set period of time;
Researchers are working on new technology which uses robust, but fully biodegradable silk protein to encase super-thin electronic circuits: the real trick here is in controlling the rate at which the silk will break down in the body and in developing electronics which will also safely dissolve.
If successful, this technology could usher in a whole new era of implantable technology, as well as more eco-friendly electronics for non-medical applications.
Gordon Bruce runs a consultancy which specialises in helping healthcare professionals find positions, with an emphasis on occupational therapy jobs.