Technology in the eyes of Medicine

Doctors have been around for centuries, developing new ideas, testing them, and then putting them to practise; but how has the use of technology aided further research and where could it take us in the future? From how doctors tested for diabetes, by tasting the sweetness of the urine, to the modern machine, which can tell you the results at a touch of a button, how else has technology aided medicine in present society?

Coronary heart disease has been one of UK’s biggest killers, affecting around 2.6 million people. It occurs when the blood supply to your heart is stopped or blocked by fatty substances clogging up the coronary arteries. Before modern technology dominated, there was only a 5% chance of surviving a cardiac arrest. Now, due to the expansion of technology, it has made it possible to make ‘coronary stents’. Coronary stents are tubules, constructed out of artificial technology, whose purpose is to keep coronary arteries open. Such technology has raised the survival rate to a staggering 98%.

Technology has also developed surgical procedures. For example, a century ago, you had patients that were in recovery time for more than a year, not forgetting the actual surgery itself, which could have lasted for more than a week. With new technology, it has allowed us to make surgical procedures much more efficient which reduces the average recovery time of major surgical operations to around four weeks. In short, technology has enhanced the effectiveness of surgical procedures.

The technology in the 21st century means that the medical industry can benefit from the vast techniques of imaging. Take the inventions of X-ray & MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging). X-rays now allow us to safely capture effective images of your bones by using radiation. It allows us to detect any broken bones, or examine organs to detect any problems. MRI uses strong magnetic fields to produce detailed images of organ, tissue and bone. The two inventions are examples of many other medical apparatuses which have been created.

As technology progressed, more techniques were being developed which lead to easier diagnosis and fewer deaths. Yet, to further our progression improving diagnosis and medicine, as a whole, it is argued we should research the use of ‘Nanoparticles’? Nanoparticles are particles which are 10-9 in size; they are bigger than atoms but smaller than bacteria. An economic advantage of ‘Nanoparticles’ is that we will save substantive amount of money. This is because ‘Nanoparticles’ have a large surface area and because it has a large surface, it follows we can afford to produce fewer units of medicine. Nanoparticles will be enable doctors to prevent the disease, not just the symptoms. Nanoparticles can be used as an ‘antimicrobial’, which prevent biofilms and bacteria because it does not stick to surfaces. As consequence, this then can be used to coat hospital wards and therefore, prevent any bacteria from sticking.

As much as medical imaging has helped the medical industry, it still has disadvantages. For instance, X-rays only show hard structures, however with ‘Nanoparticles’, it would enable us to see soft tissue quicker. Quantum dots are the smallest ‘Nanoparticles’ which have a unique electronic structure. This means they can be used for detection, be able to target antibodies and migrate to the illness; this can lead to passive targeting to cancer cells (these are cells that do not work function properly) and thus, enable doctors to detect cancer tumours around 50% earlier. This will result in a quicker medical treatment because you will be able to prevent the cancer cells from replicating and becoming too large. As much as pharmaceutical companies claim that their medicine targets a specific part, it is not true. Instead, it just treats the whole body. However, with ‘Nanoparticles’, we may even be able to produce ‘Nano’ devices and ‘Nano’ bots; this can be in the form of a chip, which will be able to detect changes in the body. Even with the genes on cancer, antibodies can bind. To counter the problems they could cause, we can use mini chips to bind little specific pathogens; these will oxidise and then, release a current to kill the harmful cells.

Technology plays a vital part in medicine; it is used for diagnosis, treatments and further research. It has reduced the death rates for many diseases; an example is Coronary heart disease where technology made tubules can be placed in the arteries to prevent it from clogging. Nanoparticles can change the world; they will be able to improve the detection of diseases, drug delivery and therapy. There are challenges such as the substantive financial cost, in the short run, to research and develop ideas, whether or not Nanoparticles will cause long term side effects, will it leave our bodies and what happens to it once it has left the body. Yet, technology is constantly improving and, in the long run, the benefits will outweigh the costs to the medical industry.

Contributed by Ehsaan Ahmad

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