The possibilities and the outcomes of surgery are improving and expanding thanks to better technologies. Crowdfunding is also playing a new and important role in the development of medical technology. Demand is easier to forecast with social media and crowdfunded ventures that focus on delivering a certain product or testing a particular procedure.
These and other breakthroughs are thanks to important developments in medical technology. Beginning with the basics, the operating room and the surgeon have completely revolutionized the approach to surgery.
The Global Medical Solutions Surgical Lights Buyers Guide offers a glimpse of what surgery used to be like: dimly lit surgery rooms where rushed doctors attempted to perform surgery before the sunset or the clouds rolled in. Precision lighting was an impossibility, so shadows were constantly obscuring views and making hard-to-reach angles even more difficult.
Today, better lighting offers precision-angled views of critical parts of the body. At a basic level, lighting plays a massive role in protecting against botched surgeries.
The operating room has changed in other ways, including how doctors and staff communicate. The World Health Organization Safe Surgery Checklist includes a protocol for how to deliver anesthesia, discuss a procedure, and confirm the results. Standardizing those practices can turn even hastily prepared trauma centers into suitable surgery rooms.
Major breakthroughs in patient and doctor preparation have made an impact on patient recovery, and general surgery outcomes. One example would be the prep work that goes into surgery today. A doctor might simulate the surgery in Virtual Reality, making the cuts, reviewing three-dimensional footage of the problem zone and the intended incision. All of which adds up to a better, more prepared surgeon. Practice makes perfect, and previously uncommon non-invasive procedures are starting to see wider usage.
Less invasive surgery has a direct impact on recovery times, which have shortened as a result.
Patients also get some education upfront, with wider availability of articles like this one that break down what happens in the operating room. Understanding the procedure may extend to in-patient visits, where doctors can simulate the surgery and explain what the patient will experience to help ease some of the anxieties of surgery.
One of the major developments is robotic-assisted surgery. When precision is critical, robotics can be trained to help perform cuts and bond implants as needed. A surgeon’s hands, no matter how delicate, can fit into only so many small spaces. A robot can make precision incisions from nearly any location at angles that a human might find difficult to access.
Access is especially important in brain surgery, where precision needles guided by robotic instruments are allowing access in ways not possible before. So-called “Smart Needles” make brain surgery safer by reducing the odds of internal bleeding. The device is equipped with a camera to let the surgeon see blood vessels and avoid them.
Additionally, robots are finding wider adoption in suturing wounds. The common procedure is easy to train a robot to do, saves the surgeon some time, and ultimately helps prevent infection in the patient. A good suture also helps reduce some of the scarring that occurs after a procedure.
Precision tools can also assist in the alignment and placement of an implant. With better alignment, the implant is a better fit. Patients will feel it less as they move around, restoring a better sense of the mobility that was lost prior to the procedure.
Surgery is an incredibly complex and delicate process. However, thanks to various advances in medical tech, patient care and patient outcomes have never been better. Anesthesia is better, our surgical environments are better about maintaining sterility, and recovery times are swifter.
Today, more than ever before, we have a more direct influence on our medical health and the technology used to treat us.