7 high tech medical gadgets that just might save your life
1st May 2010 | 11:00
You're not putting that in there.... Ow! Oh, you have
Everyone likes to play doctors and nurses. Patients and surgeons? Not so much, unless you're some kind of sicko or Jigsaw from Saw.
Luckily your actual hospitals have moved on apace since the chloroform, rusty saw and sawdust days.
Now you'll find all kinds of high tech instruments that'll poke, prod, slice and dice you in more ways you can possibly imagine.
Now just slip this green gown on and lie on that comfy table. Nurse! The two-handed saw, please.
1. daVinci Si HD System
The trouble with humans is that they're all icky and squelchy inside which is why surgeons are increasingly turning to robots to do the dirty work for them.
The da Vinci Si System from Intuitive Surgical helps that happen by giving doctors a high definition 3D view of your bits and bobs, while multiple robot arms armed with scissors, scalpels and other horror movie nasties go to work.
And just like a very gory games console, the da Vinci Si System has a two-player mode so two surgeons can have a go at once. Devices like the da Vinci Si System offer all kinds of possibilities to medics, including remote surgery where doctors in one country work on the patient lying in hospital in another, as happened with the Lindbergh Operation last year.
Now this is more like it. The Accuray CyberKnife is a massive medical instrument that does away with scalpels and drills in favour of targeting bits of your body with highly focused beams of radiation. Yes, we said radiation.
Because it's non-invasive, the CyberKnife helps patients recover more quickly from the effects of surgery that the other more old-fashioned kind, although patients usually have to undergo several treatments to totally eradicate tumours.
You can go under the CyberKnife at several locations across the UK, including the aptly named CyberKnife Centre London and at The London Clinic, which has just opened a new £80 million specialist cancer treatment centre. The Novalis Tx by Varian Medical Systems offers similar benefits.
3. InnerCool RTx Endovascular System
Most of us try to avoid hypothermia like the plague (medical term), but Philips InnerCool RTx system actually does the opposite - chiefly to help neuro and cardiac surgeons work on patients in the operating theatre - something known as Temperature Modulation Therapy.
Instead of old-fashioned ice packs and blankets, InnerCool RTx cools patients from the inside using a catheter with temperature sensor, which is placed next to the femoral artery below the heart.
In practice, the InnerCool RTx works a bit like a heat exchanger - reducing body heat by transferring it to a cooling cart using a saline solution. All of this is especially good news for brain surgeons, who can keep their patients conscious and responsive while they work on them.
4. Olympus VisiGlide
There's no easy way to put this. Surgeons dealing with tummy troubles often resort to endoscopy - a kind of medical procedure that ends up with them sticking a tube up into a body cavity (your nose, mouth, bum) with all kinds of cameras, scalpels, clamps and other implements on the end.
The Olympus VisiGlide is more specialised kind of instrument designed to make access to the pancreatic and bile ducts easier. Measuring just 0.025-inches in diameter, it's made from a kink-resistant super elastic alloy and covered with a hydrophilic coating, which makes it easier to move around. Thank goodness for that.
If you're feeling queasy at the thought of having a regular endoscopy, then why not try the PillCam instead? Shaped like a medicine capsule, this 11mm x 26mm device slips down your throat with glug of water and enables surgeons to get a good look at your insides without having to poke you up the bum or open you up using a knife.
Maker GivenImaging offers three different variants to surgeons, enabling it to detect things like internal bleeding, bowel tumours and Crohn's Disease. Eight hours after you swallow the PillCam it pops back out again. We'll leave it to you to guess how.
6. Siemens SOMATOM Definition Flash
Dicky ticker? The Siemens SOMATOM Definition Flash CT scanner can find out what's wrong in less than half a heartbeat. It uses a very low dose of radiation to image your heart - and you don't even need to be taking beta blockers or hold your breath while it works. In fact the scanner can image your whole chest region in less than 0.6 seconds - and there's already one example doing its thing in a UK hospital. That's another load off, eh?
7. Antenna Pill
Also trying the high tech pill route is the University of Florida, which has come up with the Antenna Pill - a capsule that has a dose of your medicine at one end and a tiny radio microchip at the other.
Swallow the pill and the non-toxic chip transmits a signal to a monitor around your neck, which it's hoped, will eventually be built-in to mobile phones and / or a wristwatch so doctors and family members can tell when you've had your medicine. The Antenna Pill is currently at the prototype stage. Check out the video at redOrbit.
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