Posts tagged technology

Why It’s Insanely Easy to Hack Hospital Equipment

When Scott Erven was given free reign to roam through all of the medical equipment used at a chain of large midwest health care facilities, he knew he would find security problems with the systems — but he wasn’t prepared for just how bad it would be.

'Heart sock' could replace future implantable defibrillators

Implantable defibrillators and pacemakers have been around since the 1970s, but advances in materials science and 3-D visualization are transforming them from cumbersome life-support tools into streamlined therapies that could be props from Iron Man.

Smart skin patch knows when you need your meds

Researchers from South Korea have laid the groundwork for a dermal patch that not only dispenses medication continuously, but also knows when to stop.

A two-inch long patch made of stretchable nano-material, it can monitor muscle activity and body temperature. Current practical applications for the patch include drug delivery in patients with Parkinson’s disease, where muscle contractions and tremors can trigger medication release.

The researchers hope that in the future, more functions like wireless connectivity for remote monitoring can be achieved as the technology matures. The researchers estimate that the patch will not be ready for consumer use for another five years.

Spray-On Polymer Mats Seal Surgical Incisions

Researchers from the University of Maryland have developed a spray on bio-degradable polymer that can be used to hold surgical incisions closed, sealing and protecting them from the environment.

The film has been tested on pigs for various operations and dissolve away over a 42-day period. Clinical trials and methodology planning are in the works.

Cancer patient's leg kept alive by being attached to arm

Surgeons removed a man’s tumour and rebuilt his body using leg muscles and tissue they had removed and attached to his arm to keep alive.

"It’s not easy for a surgeon to tell a patient that they haven’t done this particular procedure before."

After 120 Years, Doctors Develop New Brain Surgery Technique

A team of surgeons from Johns Hopkins recently came up with a safer, better method of replacing skull fragments after brain surgery. This is good news for anybody who might need a little work done on their noggin in the near future, as doctors have been using the same method since the 1890s.

Novice Neurosurgeons Train On Brains Printed In 3-D // NPR

There’s no such thing as too much practice when it comes to brain surgery.

But it’s hard for beginner neurosurgeons to get real hands-on experience. Most residents learn by watching and assisting experienced surgeons.

Newbies can practice on cadavers or use simulators, of course. But neither of those alternatives is quite the same as operating on a real, live patient, for better and for worse.

That’s why 3-D printers might help the doctors do a better job. At the University of Malaya in Malaysia, neurosurgeons are using 3-D printers to make realistic skulls and brains that residents can use to hone their skills.

The models combine different materials to mimic the feel of human bone, membrane and tissue. Each practice patient is made to order from the scans of an actual patient, so students can try the same procedures they see senior surgeons perform.

Dr. Vicknes Waran, one of the neurosurgeons working on the project, says he prefers these 3-D models over cadavers for teaching.

"In some parts of the world, it’s difficult to get cadavers," Waran tells Shots. Plus it’s hard to find a cadaver with the types of tumors and illnesses that the residents are being trained to treat. The best part, Waran says, is that students can practice on the models as many times as they need to in order to completely master a technique.

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A team led by Brent Ponce, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, performed one of the first surgeries using virtual augmented reality technology, developed at UAB, and Google Glass—a giant leap for practical telemedicine. 

Do you think the rise of certain technologies in medicine (tablets and the like) will end up decreasing the amount of paper work that doctors get? Or at least the time it takes to complete it. — Asked by Anonymous

The rise of technology comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

As a whole, the use of more and more technology in medicine has helped facilitate many breakthroughs and streamline the care we provide. The near-instantaneous feedback of diagnostics and interventions in the past 20-30 years has pushed us further into the Star Trek vision of medicine than ever before. The fact that I can perform a scan of your body, look inside, decide a course of action, and quickly research it on my phone or tablet within the same hour is unprecedented and it is only going to continue forward at warp speed.

With all of those advances, it certainly has helped bring medicine into the information technology age in full force. A lot of our practice can now theoretically be done on a computer. Having said that, the gains you make with technology is only as great as the infrastructure and the people manning it.

At this current point of medicine, the transition to higher technologies has been a painful one. Different health authorities use different electronic medical record systems (EMRs) that do not communicate with each other. Not everything has been digitized, leaving some reports falling through the cracks and back into the paper files. Inadequate server infrastructures threaten to wipe every patient’s slate clean. Some providers, particularly the older generation, are not adept at using higher technologies. The result unfortunately is a system that continues to operate on average at the same speed as it used to with an amount of paper waste that refuses to decrease.

Give it another couple of years, when a new technologically-savvy generation of doctors begin to push to reshape and improve the situation. Already, I have seen great examples of technology facilitating the practice in medicine in what I would consider its prime: automated form letters create tailored letters detailing a patient’s history while all that remains to be written by a physician is the referring question; an entire office of intercommunicating computers pushing data from one machine to the next, legible computer prescriptions digitally faxed from your screen to the pharmacy; continuous and easy access to the world’s foremost journals and references at all times, giving you the best information to make the best decisions. 

The future for us is bright; every day we make progress towards it. For now though, we just need to bear through the growing pains.

3D Load-Bearing CT Scans in the Management of Foot Problems.

As explained by Mr. Andy Goldberg, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in the video above, 2D radiographs have traditionally been the modality of choice for assessing foot injuries. The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in conjunction with the Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculo-Skeletal Sciences at University College Londona are using a new load-bearing 3D scanning system to manage shoe-related issues. 

With the new scanning technology, perhaps we can finally make better shoes of all kinds that conform to the needs of our feet and not the other way around.