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What Is Biomedical Instrumentation?

Today's advanced laboratories use biomedical instrumentation.
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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 26 October 2014
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The variety of diagnostic, control, and monitoring equipment used for medical purposes comprises an array of biomedical instrumentation. These electronic systems can be used in a physician’s office, a medical laboratory, or be implanted into a patient; for example, a pacemaker. They often include cardiovascular and neurological monitors, sensors, amplifiers, and devices that relay various biological vital signs. Developed by experts in biomedical engineering, systems used by facilities or patients can operate off of electrical power or run off batteries, and often transmit data wirelessly.

Biomedical instrumentation typically includes force and pressure sensors often used to monitor blood flow or lung function, for example. Amplifiers that process the signal from these transducers are included in the category as well. So are temperature controllers, various kinds of pumps, as well as ultrasonic measurement equipment and data acquisition systems. Many sensors that monitor body functions have the ability to function in coordination with other devices, as well as diagnose electronic issues and transmit data wirelessly. Data are often transmitted through air, water, and tissues such as bone and fat, while a patient can wear a transmitter in the case of a device that is implanted or even swallowed.

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Laboratory equipment can be used to test tissue and blood samples. Infrared and ultraviolet spectrum light is often used to detect the signatures of various substances. Different kinds of waveforms can help to analyze sensitivity and absorption rates of compounds. The results of medical tests are generally produced through biomedical instrumentation that operates as such. This is often useful in diagnosing health conditions and in monitoring the function of different body systems.

Operation and design of biomedical instrumentation is typically the responsibility of a biomedical engineer. The job can be a position in research, operation of machinery in hospitals such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) systems, or developing pharmaceuticals. Engineers generally need to enroll in college or university programs that include courses in mathematics, chemistry, molecular science, and biology. Experience in using various instruments, and determining the correct ones to use depending on the patient’s condition, is gained as well.

Biomedical instrumentation has advanced in the 21st century with the development of faster computers and miniaturized components. In some cases, surgeons can operate using microscopic machines. Integrated circuits are often used to collect data and process a large quantity of information about a patient’s vital signs. The different kinds of biomedical equipment can also help detect serious medical problems more promptly, as well as allow for non-invasive procedures and surgeries in most people treated.

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