Advances in medical technology help combat both COVID-19 and SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes it. Healthcare innovations of all kinds made the successes we’ve had possible. A few examples are masks that allow lip-reading, rapid testing, and our strides toward a vaccine.
Medical imaging can’t catch COVID-19 in its early stages, so it hasn’t made headlines. Still, medical imaging technology is a vital part of keeping track of COVID-19 progression.
The pandemic is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but the usual needs continue. Imaging innovations make strides in that arena, too. To help you learn more, here’s a list of four top technologies and trends in medical imaging right now.
1. 3D Printers Answer Questions
One understated use of medical imaging technology is patient education. A cancer patient told she has a tumor in her kidney may struggle to understand exactly what that means. After all, few patients know what the inside of a kidney looks like.
2D diagrams of the organs or other body parts affected help patients understand to a degree. 3D imaging helps show the locations of tumors, clots, and other problems.
Researchers in New York conducted a study on printing a 3D model for patient education. The conclusion is that 3D models help patients and doctors explaining their conditions.
The models are also helpful for doctors and surgeons planning procedures. They are specific to patients’ bodies, making for quicker and more successful surgeries.
2. 3D Augmented Reality Isn’t Just for Gaming
Augmented reality, or AR, is commonly known in the entertainment and gaming industries. Its use in other industries may be more important.
3D augmented reality as medical imaging technology saves lives. AR imaging lets surgeons pinpoint issues and plan procedures to a T beforehand.
Recent improvements in augmented reality medical technology lead to FDA-approved headsets. Surgeons wearing headsets look at 3D scans and medical images during surgery. With the use of fluoroscopy, it improves surgical accuracy and minimizes risk.
Fluoroscopy sometimes exposes patients to high levels of radiation. Yet, in technical procedures, the benefits outweigh the risks. According to the FDA, complications are more likely from anesthesia than from fluoroscopy.
Fluoroscopy allows surgeons to use augmented reality. The valuable tools together decrease the likelihood of painful and costly mistakes. The use of augmented reality itself doesn’t add any more risk.
Another benefit of augmented reality is its use in medical education.
Medical students have learned on cadavers for centuries. There’s a reason for it—It’s difficult to find a true substitute for dissecting a real human body. The varied structure of human bodies isn’t shown in traditional models.
In-person classes hold high potential for viral transmission. Medical imaging technology like augmented reality makes all the difference for distanced classes. AR is a closer approximation of traditional dissections than studying 2D diagrams or traditional 3D models.
3. Wearable Medical Imaging for Patients
Augmented and virtual reality headsets for medical professionals raise procedures’ success rates. Consumer medical wearables like FitBits and pulse monitors are trending. Doctors aren’t the only ones wearing medical imaging devices in the clinic.
A couple of recent advances in medical imaging wearables are MRI gloves and portable MEG imaging. MEG stands for magnetoencephalography. The technology lets neurologists see brain activity during natural movements and activities.
Fields like sports neurology can use MEG scanners to study brain activity during athletic performance. More common fields benefit patients who can’t control their movements with clearer imaging.
4. Point of Care Ultrasound for Quick Diagnoses
Point of care ultrasound, commonly known as POCUS, is a medical imaging technology with a wide variety of benefits.
Unlike traditional medical imaging technology, POCUS is transportable. It’s non-invasive and doesn’t come with the risk of radiation that comes with traditional X-ray imaging.
A physical examination is indispensable in many assessments, but using POCUS with one gives patients more information. It also establishes a clearer picture of patients’ complaints for both patients and doctors alike.
Point of care lung ultrasound is one of the top technologies used for imaging the progression of COVID-19.
Compared to traditional imaging technologies, POCUS reduces the need for patient contact. It also cuts down on COVID-19 patients’ travel throughout the hospital. This reduction makes it possible to split resources better and saves lives.
POCUS technology also provides immediate results. Traditional imaging needs processing before patients and professionals can use the information the pictures contain. Anyone interested in the possibilities of POCUS or looking to get POCUS certification should read more now about it.
5. Artificial Intelligence in Medical Imaging
The use of artificial intelligence may be the biggest trend in medical imaging right now.
Artificial intelligence as part of an imaging system is a guiding tool. It offers doctors and technicians options for diagnoses and procedures.
A doctor can only remember so much at one time, but AI has almost unlimited thinking power. This technology can sort thousands of pieces of information in no time at all.
Medical professionals make the final call as always, so it’s not a robot takeover. What AI does is stop wild goose chases. It reduces misdiagnosis and unneeded procedures.
This makes better use of hospital resources. It also saves valuable doctor and patient time. Another benefit for patients is that they serve to save money with a faster process.
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Now you know four exciting up-and-coming trends and technologies in medical imaging. Bring your knowledge to the workplace, classroom, or a conversation with friends!
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