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computers in medicine

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Computers and medicine.

 

Computers play a huge part in the medical field these days. And this role will only increase as computers get better and more depended on. Computers introduce to us a vast resource of knowledge and capabilities that was never known in the past. We can look inside people with out them ever being cut. Mirs and CAT scans are a good example of how computer technology has helped the medical field, and the patients for that matter.

And the future of computers in the medical field is only getting brighter.

 

          There are so many ways in which computers have directly affected the productivity and accuracy of doctors. One small device that was introduced a few years ago was the handheld computer, or palm pilot. This small, yet very effective device has been a great advancement to doctors.

Doctors have been able to use these devices as medical look-ups. By installing a code reference and other medical information, doctors will be able to treat patients a lot more accurately. These devices also have the abilities to take personal notes that the doctor can review on his own time.

Another function is the use of e-mail over these devices, or instant messages.

This will allow the doctor to have complete access to information before he gets to a patient. Such as looking at charts, or x-rays before he gets to the hospital. These charts would be easily downloaded onto the palm pilot, and could be used for future look-ups.

         

          Another advancement we can look forward to is the use of internet surgery. Internet Surgery makes use of fast Ethernet connections and robotic tools to perform the actual surgery.  The surgeon does not have to be present in the room for this surgery to take place.  The surgeon can be in any corner of the world and still feel exactly what he is doing, and looks at any tests he wants.  With this technology, the surgeon can even practice the surgery before the actual surgery takes place.  This will greatly improve the surgeons understanding of the procedure and all the risks involved with it.

 

The most obvious advantage of this technology is that patients can choose a specialist from any part of the world.  They are not limited by geography or extra traveling costs.  Another advantage of this technology is that it is more precise and accurate than most human surgeons, so it can increase the likelihood of the patients survival, especially in complicated surgeries like brain surgery. Even though there are many advantages to Internet Surgery, it does have some major risks.  The biggest risk is computer failure or network failure.  Both of these situations can happen at any time and can lead to a disastrous situation.  A solution to this is having a backup team in room during the surgery so that if something goes wrong, they can take over.

 

Image Guided Surgery will also help the medical community a great deal.

 Image Guided Surgery is different from Internet Surgery because it does require the surgeon to be present in the room.  It involves building three dimensional models, laser scanning, and registration so that the surgeon know exactly what he is going to be cutting through, around, and at.   During the actual surgery, the doctor has to wear a special instrument so that he can see all the images and movies he made during the pre-surgical process.  The surgeon wears a virtual reality type headgear to see exactly where in the body he is.  Therefore, the surgeon will not actually be looking into where he is making an incision, but into the headgear to see the map that he has created in order to avoid mishaps.

          In the not so distant future lost limbs might be a thing of the past.

 Engineers are beginning to devise systems that will imitate a natural limb by connecting muscles and nerves that had once controlled a body part to a prosthetic limb.  These prosthetics will be wired directly to the persons brain.

  This would allow the prosthetic to actually feel the sense of touch.  Experiments are being conducted in which electrodes are placed around a sensory nerve that receives messages from receptors in the hand.  These electrodes record the impulses in the nerve and correlate it to how tightly the hand grips an object.  The electrode feeds the information to a computer that determines how to grasp the object and stimulate muscles.  Because these computers would respond to situations much like living nerves would, those who have lost touch in their limbs would once again be able to respond to their environment.  In the next decade, systems may be refined enough to begin using on paralyzed patients.

          Scientist are also working on a way to use computers to prescribe medication. According to doctors, some medications can be harmful if prescribed to a patient who has a certain gene that is not able to properly absorb that medication.  A new science called

Pharmacogenomics is compiling all gene types with corresponding toxic medications.  Doctors will soon be able to swipe a DNA sample from the patients blood onto a computer chip that contains gene information.  The DNA would stick to the genes that it matched to inform the doctor which medications would be absorbed by the patients genes.  For now, researchers are using robots to analyze thousands of drug samples, also called high thoughtput screening.  Then, computers are used to process the results to suggest which drugs should be tested with the patients genes.

         

 

The future of computers is very bright in the field of medicine. Computers might one day replace all hands on surgery if the technology used to perform Internet Surgery continues to develop at such a rapid pace. Another thing that we might see in the near future is the development of devices that would allow doctors to look at a patient's symptoms with their eyes. Also, in the near future we might see the development of devices that can be installed in people's homes, that will keep track of all their medical needs. Therefore, in the future, this new technology has the potential to save the medical field a lot of money if it is properly implemented.

 

 

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