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Medical imaging in the 21st century

There are many diagnostic modalities available in the healthcare sector with admittedly a great geographical disparity between various regions of the world. This factor alone is one of the main contributors to the vast differences in the levels of mortality of treatable conditions. The convoluted complexity of global healthcare has spawned an entire industry that has recently been focusing on low energy portable therapeutic and diagnostic devices, that can be economically applied to the poorer regions of the globe, and it is predicted by 2022 that the homgenization of healthcare delivery will, at the very least provide these previously underserved populations an opportunity to benefit from advanced healthcare.

To understand the challenges that the more economically deprived areas of the world requires that the individuals actually spend some time working in the system of that region, as this in my opinion, is the only way to become intimately familiar with the daily challenges that face the staff and hospital.

One of the most cumbersome and expensive aspects of any medical system is the purchase and maintenance of equipment such as the MRI, CT, PET SCAN and XRADIOLOGICAL units, which are both expensive to purchase, transport and subsequently maintain as they have a very high energy requirement. These problems are magnified in some of the most rural areas of the world where there is no power grid and people rely completely on gasoline lamps. Even within developed countries the cost associated with these devices can be prohibitive and the market for more portable, cost efficient energy efficient devices is growing and into this market steps a portable imaging device that was recently patented in the US and is currently in the process of prototype development. The device will revolutionize the practice of medicine globally as it will enable both the diagnostic and therapeutic management of diseases without there being any need to break the patients skin. The unit will require a tiny fraction of the energy required by the current imaging devices and is portability will allow its easy transportation to any part of the globe.

The inspiration for the device came from the many years spent using the C-arm to visualize anatomical structures with the constant threat of radiation. In addition the cumbersome nature of the unit required the assistance of a radiological technician, which off course was an added cost. The portability of the device is one of the strongest features and connected to the device is a transmitter that allows surgeons at a distant location to watch the procedure for the purposes of learning and contributing expert opinion. The goggles have been designed with flat screens for the lenses which will allow the operator to obtain a wide view of the area being treated, with visual optics that been have borrowed from the world of video games and virtual reality. The precision of the procedure has been enhanced due to the robotic input feature that instructs the surgeon as he dissects the tissues. There are plans to develop the device further to include the addition of robotic arms to the goggles to even further maximize the degree of precision.

The goggles have been currently designed to fit around the upper half of the face, with seals that will prevent the pollution of the internal sensory environment by external stimulants. The image that the surgeon will visualize is one that has never been seen with any other imaging device currently available, and what, without giving away too much proprietary advice, is the algorithmic calculation of the reflected and refracted portions of the waves that are transmitted by units that produce waves with frequencies in the ultrasound, infra-red and x-radiation spectrum. The date collected from these three forms of tissue analysis is processed via the algorithmic formulas to then create an image in the screen of the goggles that mimics exactly the anatomical region that is being treated and which allows the placement in real time of probes, instruments and surgical blades. The revolutionary feature of this device is the fact that it simultaneously allows the visualization of all of the hard and soft structures of the anatomical region being addressed, which is something that unless the body is surgically opened has not and cannot be achieved.

One of the arguably equally important characteristics of this device is the markedly reduced energy requirement it requires to operate, compared to the current range of imaging devices. This and its minimal size allow it to be easily transported to parts of the world that are economically deprived, and due to the fact that the device is almost self explanatory in its use, it does not require many man power hours to bring it to the point of clinical functionality. This feature is even more relevant in the non-english speaking parts of the world.

The general trend towards the increased efficiency of the healthcare system with an increasing focus on energy smart devices is well under way and with the goggles, an example is provided of the combination of these principles in an innovative device that will bring modern healthcare to parts of the world, that have for nothing but political hurdles, been denied access to the same quality of care that the individuals in the western world have enjoyed. Technology has truly become the major democratizing force in the world and maybe even some sunny day soon, governments will go the same way as the good old dinosaurs.


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