The last century has seen incredible leaps in medicine and surgery. Not even imaginable at the beginning of the 20th century, we have within our society and technology the ability to dramatically extend lives well beyond ages previously believed possible. In addition, medicine has expanded to wipe out many dangerous diseases, while keeping the general level of health in the population high. Let’s briefly examine how technology has changed surgery.
The earliest technologies…
Before getting to the more modern advancements in techniques and scanning tools, it must be mentioned that some of the greatest advancements to surgery through technology came early on. These include changes to the tools as well as methods to sanitize instruments prior to use. With proper sanitation came a dramatic reduction in infections, leading to a much higher survival rate. Previously considered a “risky art,” surgery was ready for the next great advancement.*1
Modern Advancements in Computing
Beyond proper disinfectants and a growing knowledge of antibodies and proper blood types, the next great advancements in surgery came from computing technology. This is two fold. The first is the use of computers to calculate risk factors inherent in certain operations. This means that the doctor, as well as the patient, has a better understanding of what risks underlies certain procedures.
The next advancement lies in the use of robotics for certain procedures. Beginning as monitoring devices and scanners, these devices are capable of simple and calculated procedures, aiding the surgeon in executing exact and precise operations.*2 With each advancement, the percentage chance of complications reduces for each operation. Given how complex and varied surgeries can be, the net result is a gradual reduction in risks associated with operations. What has once been considered “risky,” is getting increasingly close to “refined.”
Where do we go from here? What does the future hold?
When it comes to surgical tech, the sky seems to be the limit. New advancements are made every day, with even more possibilities created through speculative papers and journal articles within the respective fields. There are however a few trends in surgery and tech that most experts can agree on. The first is extreme miniaturization of tools, used primarily by robots. What will accompany the use of these tools is augmented reality, which will allow surgeons to use these tools properly. Finally, there is some speculation that miniaturized robots may be used in the body to help fight disease and repair damage.*3
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