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What Is Medical Technology?

Automated medical equipment may be used to analyze blood samples.
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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2014
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Medical technology includes a vast array of products used in the diagnosis and monitoring of human conditions and diseases. It also encompasses the advancement of medicine that is available to treat diseases that were once fatal, and the instruments used to perform less invasive operations. Medical laboratory scientists are aware of the implications of using computers and machinery that can analyze multiple samples of biological material at faster speeds and higher accuracies than in the past.

The most fascinating aspects of medical technology are the innovations that occur at the engineering level. There are miniature robots that are used to perform spinal surgeries that were once considered highly complex and dangerous. Miniaturized pacemakers function without any disturbance to the patient, and drugs can be activated by light to seek out diseased cells. Other medications can be swallowed and their activation is delayed until biological processes break them down as they reach certain organs.

Ongoing innovations are contributing to medical technology on a regular basis. For example, carbon nanotubes have been used by engineers at the University of Southern California in the United States to simulate neural synapses. This medical technology is expected to allow for very small circuits, and tiny semiconductors have already had a huge impact on medical devices, and will continue to do so in the future.

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Medical technology advancements are impacting the job outlook as well. Automated laboratory equipment is enabling the analysis of samples of blood and cells to detect diseases much earlier than before. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, work for clinical laboratory technicians is projected to grow by 14% over the next decade. The ease of access to medical technology is also allowing more laboratories and diagnostic centers to open up, and for more hospitals and doctor’s offices to acquire state-of-the-art equipment.

New advances in medical technology are announced almost daily, but the future implications of ongoing work are numerous. Medical devices continue to be miniaturized, and as this continues, new therapies and modifications to existing ones will arise. Engineering work on creating biological tissues in the lab continues, and further advances are expected to lead to the availability of replacement organs at some point in the future. Technology for diagnosing diseases using molecular and genetic studies will allow even earlier detection and better outcomes for treating serious illnesses. The well-being of both professionals and patients is benefited because of medical technology.

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lluviaporos
Post 2

One of the more interesting kinds of displays at a museum are old medical artifacts.

Sometimes they were right on the money and sometimes they were so far wrong it's not funny.

Like, people used to use drills to create holes in skulls and let the evil spirits out. That sounds like witch doctor nonsense, but actually drilling a hole in the skull after a head injury can help relieve pressure on the brain.

But, some of the Victorian devices for curing women of "hysteria" are ridiculous.

It's a wonder sometimes that anyone survived.

browncoat
Post 1

The future of medical technology is to get smaller and smaller until they reach the nano level. There are a lot of apocalyptic scenarios put forward in science fiction speculating on what will happen when we reach nano-technology.

Maybe all our medical problems will be solved, because what disease could fight a bunch of tiny, tireless robots? We might stop aging, because the nano-bots can repair our organs at the cellular level. We might become happier as they coax our brains into releasing hormones.

Or it might go horribly wrong. Usually people pick on the fact that the nano-bots would be self replicating, and would get out of control and take over the world. Or maybe they will affect us in unforeseen ways. Or maybe they will develop collective intelligence and become an enemy.

At any rate, this technology is going to be here sooner rather than later, so here's hoping the scientists read the same sci-fi that I do.

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