Recent exciting developments in medical and surgical technology have led to better care for patients in all specialties. Dr. Zvi Margaliot, an experienced plastic surgeon with a focus on hand and wrist care, examines the newest technological advancements which have already made a large impact in the world of medicine.
One of the most intriguing advances in medical technology is teletherapy, or the ability to provide medical care at a distance. With so many video chat options available today, it is easy to imagine a time in which patients will be able to access mental and physical health care from providers who are located far away.
The most promising application for teletherapy is in mental health, where patients need to have long-term and extensive contact with one provider in order to make a difference. Teletherapy has the potential to allow patients and doctors to have close contact without the cost and inconvenience of travel, and make expert care available in underserviced areas.
This medical device has already made a huge difference in the field of diabetic treatment. Rather than a traditional insulin pump which delivers a steady amount of insulin, the artificial pancreas is able to calculate exactly how much insulin a person needs at any given time by automatically monitoring the patient’s blood sugar.
The artificial pancreas is enhanced by AI systems and is controlled through a smartphone app. This takes the guesswork out of insulin dosing and gives patients steady blood sugar numbers night and day.
In such specialties as rheumatology and cancer care, the rise of genetically targeted medications means that therapies have a better chance of working on the first try. The patient’s genome is explored, and the affected cells are tested to determine what mutations may have led to the patient’s condition. Targeted medicines for rheumatoid arthritis are helping to ease the pain for the 1.5 million Americans who suffer from this condition.
Reducing Melanoma Biopsies
A handheld device scans suspicious moles and lesions at a level of 10 electromagnetic wavelengths. This incredibly detailed view can then be compared to scans of actual melanoma, which helps to decide which patients should be biopsied. The MelaFind technology is based on Department of Defense techniques which were originally used for missile navigation. Reducing the number of biopsies is valuable for patients with suspected melanoma, and for their treating physicians, since many moles which may appear dangerous to the naked eye are in fact benign.
Advances in Heart Valve Replacements
The Sapien heart valve helps to replace heart valves in patients who are too fragile for open-heart surgery. The device is inserted through a catheter, and it is made of a stainless-steel stent attached to bovine tissue. When the proper location in the heart is reached, a small balloon inflates to keep it in place. This advance in surgical technology may lead to better outcomes for patients who would otherwise not receive new heart valves due to their frailty.
3D printing has entered the medical field in full force over the last several years, and has revolutionized medical device manufacturing. 3D printing bridges the gap between the variability in the needs of individual patients, each with their unique structure and anatomy, and reliable, fast and cost-effective mass-production manufacturing. Acrylics, metals and ceramics – the backbones of many medical devices – can now be used, greatly expanding the possibilities for what can be manufactured. Manufacturers can now quickly and relatively cheaply make custom joint replacements and custom cutting templates to guide surgery, customized plating systems for repairing fractures and bone defects, and custom dental prostheses. The applications for 3D printing will be greatly expanded in the near future.
Electronic Preoperative Planning
These technologies can benefit surgeons in all specialties, including plastic surgery. When the area in which surgery is needed is imaged using MRI and CT scans, a 3D model of the body can be built. This helps surgeons to visualize the area and to plan their surgical strategy before the patient is on the operating table. This could help to reduce possible surgical injuries as well as reducing the amount of time needed for surgery since less exploratory care is needed. This is already being used extensively in dentistry, where optical and CT scans are used to create 3D models to help plan, design and manufacture custom dental implants and prosthetics.
These novel techniques and devices will help doctors and patients achieve better health outcomes. Through the use of technology, older techniques will be revitalized, and entirely new techniques will be put in place. Medical professionals like Dr. Zvi Margaliot will use as many technological advances as possible to increase the quality of patient care.