Advances in medical technology

August 5, 2008 3:40:30 PM PDT
They are cutting edge technology that will change the medical world. From helping doctors make a better diagnosis with a new view of the human body to research that will make it easier to be a patient.

One of them allows doctors a view into the human body that has never been seen before.

The high tech computer program at the University of Calgary in Canada can take someone inside a body with the use of 3-D glasses. There is height, weight and depth as the body floats in front of your eyes.

This four dimensional virtual reality will not only show disease processes, but the effects of drugs and other interventions.

"The computer knows where you are in the room and creates a perfect image around you. If we were looking at soft tissue damage, we'd load up the muscles that are in the neck area or we'd look at the internal organ to see if that's where the problem was," Dr. Christoph Sensen said.

It can even look inside the brain.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an idea from the toes of a gecko gave researchers the idea that could make surgical stitches a thing of the past. "Geckos have a tiny feature at the surface of their toes. Millions of them on their toes," he said.

The etched patterns in a microchip mimic the gecko's feet. From that comes a sticky, no stitches bandage for closing surgical openings. It has very elastic properties.

Another chip might one day hold your medicine. It's sandwiched between positive and negatively charged layers of film. Researchers hope to implant the chip in patients to deliver drugs to targeted areas of the body.

"When you're in a local area near the cancer tumor, you only need small amounts of the chemotherapy drug," explained Paula Hammond, PhD.

The chip could release medicine when remotely activated through a small electrical field.

Remote control would also activate another device to make needle biopsies less invasive. With a surgeon in a control room, the mechanism takes the guess work out of finding the accurate biopsy spot.

"This is a tool to help them get there faster and a little more accurately," said Alexander Slocum, PhD.

These technological advances are not yet ready for patient use, but possibly could be part of our medical future.

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