Effect of Laser Technology on Medical Surgical Procedures

The laser had already existed in theory long before it became a reality in 1960, when the first working laser was tested by researcher Theodore Maiman. As early as 1917, scientists like Albert Einstein were already working out the foundations of laser technology in studies like The Quantum Theory of Radiation. But even in 1960, after the testing of Maiman’s laser, many people were skeptical as to whether light could actually work as a viable, physical medical instrument. It has been nearly five decades since then, and laser technology has advanced exponentially, becoming one of the most essential and versatile tools in the world of surgical procedures.

The most recognizable surgical field in the advancement of which lasers have been crucial is ophthalmology. Eye surgery is almost always associated with laser surgery. It was the laser that first allowed doctors to conduct ultra-precise surgical procedures on their patient’s eyes without the risk of seriously damaging them. The excimer laser, specifically, was important in the advancement of eye surgery. The excimer laser, rather than burn through tissue, simply provided enough energy to dissolve the bonds that hold tissue together, allowing it to evaporate into the air without causing harm to surrounding structures.

But lasers are used in a lot of other kinds of surgical procedures as well. The laser scalpel, for example is used to make all kinds of precise, delicate incisions that would otherwise be extremely dangerous. Carbon dioxide lasers are the most commonly used for laser scalpels. They cut at the same, consistent depth, eliminating the danger of a doctor cutting too deeply with a metal scalpel. Laser scalpels also have the advantage of being able to cauterize open blood vessels even while cutting through tissue, which helps tremendously in avoiding the danger of excessive blood loss.

Laser technology is also helping to make certain risky medical procedures unnecessary. The open-heart surgery required to de-clog a patient’s arteries, for example, is no longer the only option available. Using a miniature laser attached to a thin optical fiber array, doctors can reach the heart’s arteries through the patient’s leg or arm veins. Once at the artery, the laser is fired and the harmful plaque is destroyed.

Medical Equipment – Development and History of Medical Equipment

At the doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic, patients rarely consider the medical equipment around them. Medical equipment is an integral part of diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy. Even the simplest physical exam can often require a variety of high-tech medical equipment.

In 15th century Europe, during and after the horrors of the bubonic plague, autopsies began to be performed at universities, and a primitive form of ‘scientific method’ began to take hold in the minds of the educated. Practical surgery and anatomy studies began. These curious medieval Europeans laid the foundation for modern science. They also laid the foundation for the well known process of identifying a problem, creating a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis by most importantly observing and experimenting; interpreting the data and drawing a conclusion.

Medical equipment prior to and even during the scientific revolution was based on classical Greek and Roman theories about science, which were not based on science at all, but on philosophy and superstition. Human health was viewed as a balance of 4 internal ‘humors’ in the body. The 4 humors– blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm, were analogous to the 4 elements of the universe to the classical thinker, fire, air, water, and earth. Ailments, both physical and mental, were caused by an imbalance of humors. The ideal mind and body balanced all 4 humors, gracefully. To heal, doctors prescribed foods or procedures which would balance the fluids in the body. Some of the prescriptions seem to make sense– fevers were treated with cold, dry temperature to combat the hot, wet over stimulation in the body. But when that failed, often the next step was blood letting. Unnecessary purging and enemas were also common cures, which might have helped some people, but also might have caused more problems than they solved. George Washington’s death has recently been attributed, not to the strep throat he probably had as he died, but to the bloodletting and mercury enema given to him to cure it.Not-quite-scientific medical cures are still available and used by many, even today.

Since the 15th century, Western science has focused on examining and observing the body, and has created tools to make this easier. X-ray imaging and today MRI devices are merely extensions of the first autopsies and anatomical studies, which strove to understand how the human body actually operates. Diagnostic instruments like ophthalmoscopes, blood pressure monitors, and stethoscopes are likewise extensions of the medieval examination. Exam tables, gloves, and other medical accessories are simply the newest versions of tools that have been used for centuries. Medical technology and medical knowledge feed off of each other. Take for instance hypertension. Although devices for measuring blood pressure have existed for over 100 years, only in the last 20 years have the connections of blood pressure to disease, genetics, and lifestyle been fully explored. As the importance of measuring blood pressure increased, new technologies were explored to keep accurate measurements and records. It wasn’t until the prevalence of automatic blood pressure monitors that a correlation could be made between readings taken by a human and readings taken in a controlled, isolated environment. The medical equipment and the medical knowledge then form a constantly twisting Gordian Knot, one side tightening, as the other loosens, back and forth.

What does the future hold for this push and pull of technology and scientific inquiry? Recent developments in nanotechnology and genetics, along with more and more powerful supercomputers might create a situation where what it means to be human actually changes, due to technology. For example, scientists have actually created simple life forms out of previously non-living DNA material. While it doesn’t seem that dramatic at first glance, it’s an important development. Medical equipment acts as an extension for investigation of the how’s and why’s of the human body, and as science catches up and surpasses the investigations, completely new kinds of medical diagnosis, monitoring and therapy may result. Imagine the ability to grow new organs inside the body. Limb re-growth is possible in other organisms, why not in humans? And if it is possible, would the developments be truly ‘human?’ The future is unknowable; the only aspect about it we can understand is that it will look nothing like we could have previously imagined. In retrospect, we’ll see the signs, like we always do, but this is hindsight, not foresight. Presently, technology marches forward and it continues, as a process, to change human life.

Medical Transcription and EMR – Digitizing Patient Health Record to Provide Health-Care Solutions

The present day health-care industry faces enormous challenges to satisfactorily deliver quality health solutions to the masses in a cost effective manner. The challenge gets stiffer, when remote communities are involved.

To maximize the reach of medical personnel, it is important to merge wireless technology with medical documentation technologies like EMR and medical transcription. The objective is to deliver health-care solutions through Telemedicine to near or distant communities, by creating a seamless health-care web.

A proper medical documentation system makes it easy for the physician to maintain a complete record of the patient. Medical documentation system like EMR or electronic medical record allows the physician to quickly enter the patient health information into relevant pre-structured templates through point-and-click mechanism. As a result, during medical diagnosis of patient, the physician directly enters the medical observations into computer to create an electronic record. This saves time and money as no additional staff and storage area is needed for maintaining bulky file cabinets.

In medical transcription, the diagnostic report of patient is dictated into the voice recorder and the voice file is sent to the transcriptionist. The voice file is converted into electronic text and sent back to physician. This is a manual process and takes time. The speech recognition software overcomes this drawback by directly converting dictation or spoken words into electronic file, which is then edited by the transcriptionist. This setup increases the transcription speed and at same time ensures high degree of accuracy.

EMR, medical transcription and speech recognition software make it easy to digitize the patient health information, in a safe and secure way. The digital data is then converted into suitable microwave signals by WIMAX (World Wide Interoperability for Microwave Access) and transmitted over large distances. All the security features are incorporated in the network to ensure that the bi-directional flow of the patient health data is as per HIPAA norms.

The wireless technology like the WIMAX, provides the last mile connectivity and allows for easy integration of the remote communities with urban centers, where majority of hospitals are located. Through WIMAX, it is possible to simultaneously receive and send, audio and video signals, an essential requirement of Tele-monitoring. The ECG and EEG of the distant patient can be easily monitored by a doctor in the hospital, situated thousands of miles away. In case of emergencies like accidents in remote areas, where the patient requires prompt medical attention, the paramedics can easily interact with hospitals. They can send medical observations, reports, videos and other records, online to hospitals and simultaneously receive instructions from doctors, on how to treat patients. This all can be easily done as the patient is being rushed to the nearest hospital. Thus WIMAX provides mobility to health-care delivery.

This type of health-care setup reduces patient visits to the hospitals or clinics, unless in case of an emergency or when it becomes necessary for patient. The stored health information can be easily updated regularly by doctor after each online interaction with the patient, during the course of the treatment.

Thus Medical transcription and electronic medical record can be smoothly integrated with WIMAX technology in such a manner that it reduces the cost of treatment. The patient does not have to pay for the transportation and accommodation charges, as he or she can easily avail online treatment.

Medical Transcription, EMR and WIMAX technology can together provide online health solutions in a cost effective manner.