Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Additional Advances To Expect in Medical Care

In the last post I referred to the advances in biological sciences and some in engineering and computer science. Here are some more that will have a tremendous impact on your care now and into the future.

With the improvements in imaging devices such as MRI and CT scanners, it is now possible to do many procedures much less invasively in the radiology suite rather than in the OR as before. Uterine fibroids can be destroyed by passing a small catheter [about the size of a spaghetti noodle] into the arteries that feed the fibroid. Then small particles are inserted that block off that blood supply and the fibroid basically withers away. It is a rapid procedure with minimal recuperation time, especially compared to surgical removal of the uterus [hysterectomy.] Another example is resolving an aneurysm in the brain using similar catheters without the need for open neurosurgery.
Some tumors of the brain can be successfully treated with the “gamma knife” which is designed to give a huge dose of radiation to the tumor but not the rest of the brain. It is done in one procedure and the patient goes home the same or the next day. Other new radiation therapy procedures utilize very sophisticated equipment that can deliver the correct dose of radiation to the tumor, say in the prostate, but avoid most of the surrounding tissue such as the rectum and bladder. This makes the treatment more effective yet with fewer side effects.

Slowly but surely, all medical information is being digitized. As this happens it will be finally possible to have a total electronic medical record. This will mean your medical data is available anyplace, anytime. And it will mean that if you are sent to a specialist that your CT scan is available on line and you will not have to go to the radiology office to get it before visiting the specialist. This will save you time; the specialist can make an informed opinion immediately and will mean reduced costs. There are some important hurdles to overcome before this will be a reality but I am confident that they will be solved relatively soon.

With these and other advances medical care will be more custom tailored just for you; there will be a greater focus on prevention; it will be possible to repair, restore or replace a damaged organ; your medical data will be instantly available and medical care will be safer. Big advances.

1 comment:

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