Sunday, May 2, 2010

Advances in Medical Technology

Medical technology is an important component of medical health care and can provide significant benefits to patients. It can help us to understand internal body systems (digestive, circulatory or respiratory), diagnosis, and treatment. It includes diagnostic devices (e.g. defibrillator, MRI, CAT scans), and treatment procedures (e.g. joint replacements, therapies, surgeries). Medical technology has made a significant contribution to the development of fast, precise and gentle diagnostic procedures and new therapies. It makes the process of medical practice efficient for people in the medical field and also for the patients. There are different types of medical technology that can contribute to the understanding of all internal systems such as X-rays, MRI, CT scans, etc and some help us to understand a particular type of internal system (e.g. Defibrillator is used for the circulatory system)

In the beginning of the 20th century, medical technology became revolutionized using tools such as stethoscopes, microscopes, thermometers and X-ray machines. With these medical devices, doctors are able to see and hear patient’s organs such as lungs and heart.

Medical technology (Diagnostic devices):

  • Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT): In the present time, scientists have combined X-ray technology with computer technology to get a better view of the body organs. In the computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan procedure, many X-rays are taken from many angles and reassembled to make three-dimensional images. CAT scans provide information of different structures and these images get stored in the computer with their location and angle. CAT scans can distinguish between gases, liquids, and solid tissues are useful for detecting blood clots in the head.

Other diagnostic devices include:

  • X-rays: It uses electromagnetic radiation to make images. The image is recorded on a film, called a radiograph. The parts of the body appear light or dark because of different rates that tissues absorb the X-rays. Calcium in bones absorbs X-rays the most, so bones look white on the radiograph. Fat and other soft tissues absorb less, and look gray. Air absorbs least, so lungs look black. Health care professionals use them to look for broken bones, problems in the lungs and abdomen, cavities in teeth and many other problems. For example, mammograms use X-rays to look for tumors or suspicious areas in the breasts. X-ray technology.
  • Blood tests: A laboratory analysis performed on a blood sample that is usually extracted in the vein from an arm using a needle. Blood tests are used to determine physiological and biochemical states, such as disease, mineral content, drug effectiveness, and organ function. The blood then gets stored in a test tube.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): It uses the spinning motions of the atomic nuclei to produce a map of the internal structure of human body tissue and to reveal how organs are functioning.
  • Nuclear imaging: It uses radionuclides to view organs and tissues of the body. The radionuclides that they use are the nucleii of unstable atoms that emits rays of energy. It gets injected into the body to collect in the target organs. Different radionuclides are used to identify different organs (ex. A thallium isotope can be used to identify heart imaging.
  • Stethoscope: It is used to hear sounds within the body. Doctors use it to listen to sounds from the heart, lungs, intestinal tract, and blood flow. Therefore, they are able to detect normal and abnormal cardiac, respiratory, arterial, venous, intestinal, uterine, and fetal sounds.
  • Defibrillator: It is used to detect heart rates that are too fast or too slow and correct them by using an electrical current. It can maintain or correct the rhythm of the heart.

Medical technology has helped us to provide new treatments and therapies with improved success of medical care to patients.

  • Laser Eye Surgery: It is an advanced medical technology that corrects vision problems. In this surgical procedure, light rays are bent or refracted by the cornea so that they are directed on the retina. (The retina is a layer of cells that senses light). There are two procedures of eye surgery. Each reshapes the cornea, the curved front surface of the eye. In both cases a “cold” laser is used, which prevents damage to the surrounding eye tissue. And in each case the eye gets healed by itself. During the first kind of procedure, the surgeon uses a laser beam to reshape the surface of the cornea to correct the vision. During the second kind of procedure, the surgeon cuts a flap in the cornea, lifts it, and then uses a laser to remove calculated amounts of tissue from inside the cornea, and then closes the flap.
  • Chemotherapy: In this treatment, drugs are used to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is the most popular cancer treatment worldwide. It stops or slows down the growth of cancer cells. It is applied to treat leukemia (a kind of cancer of the bone marrow which causes uncontrollable and abnormal growth of white blood cells) and lymphoma (cancer in lymph or nodes).The functions of chemotherapy are that it cures and controls cancer, and eases cancer symptoms. Cancer cells can no longer grow back when they are destroyed by chemotherapy. Source:
  • Radiation Therapy: It is the medical use of ionizing radiation as part of cancer treatment to destroy malignant cells. It is one of the several treatments that can be used to treat cancer by itself or in a combination of other forms of treatment such as surgery or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is also known as radiotherapy.


  • Pharmacotherapy: In this treatment, disease is treated through the administration of drugs. Pharmacists are experts in pharmacotherapy and are responsible for ensuring the safe, appropriate, and economical use of medicines.


One other treatment include:

  • Joint replacement: In this treatment, a damaged joint is removed and is replaced with an artificial joint, which is made of metal and plastic. An orthopaedic doctor will replace or fix only the damaged parts of the joint through surgery.

    Medical Technology in Canada

Canada is slow to adopt the latest medical technology forcing Canadian patients to rely on old and often outdated medical equipment for treatment according to the Fraser Institute.

Another key indicator of Canada’s performance is PET scanners (Positron Emission Tomography) which is used in cancer detection and treatment as well as for Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and in cardiology.

The study finds that Canada ranks below average and ahead of only Finland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands among developed nations in the number of PET scanners per million people.

There have been studies that Canada is a late adopter of advanced medical technologies. It has not been strongly committed to investment in medical technology in the past or has restricted the introduction of new technology. Canada lags behind a number of other nations in the rate of expansion in the inventory or application of technologies. Canada also often relies more on less sophisticated forms of technology than might be optimal.


Improvements in medical technology can have dramatic effects in heath care field by improving health and quality of life for patients. Medical technology can advance the identification and treatment of diseases, provide more comfortable treatment regimes and reduce pain, offer new treatment options for patients, and can provide a safer environment for both patients and providers.

Canadians having a high level of access to the latest medical technology should be an objective of health policy in Canada. If they don’t, it would be a failure of the health care system.

Doctors can use advanced medical technology to observe and learn more about the structures and their functions, and location of disease without arranging for surgery. For example, a PET scan can detect a lung cancer that has spread to other body parts, which can avoid a surgery. It can also determine if liver tumours can be safely removed and can help determine if chemotherapy treatment is working, or whether the drug cocktail being provided needs to be changed.

Advances in medical technology had a great impact in society. They allow for greater accuracy, speed, and efficiency in diagnosing medical problems. They also provide less invasive procedures for the diagnosis of disease, which can facilitate earlier and more localized treatment. Compared to older medical technologies, they are more reliable and need less maintenance. They also provide a higher quality output and are more accurate and safer for both patients and health care providers.

• Nelson Biology 11


  1. heyyy.

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