4 Important Technologies and Tools in the diagnostic process

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Doctors are considered as next to god especially in our Indian society. In this regard, our Doctors or other medical practitioners would have been helpless in the treatment of Medical Science if they were not equipped with proper diagnostic instruments. In this way, the role of diagnostic instruments in the field of Medical Science is the same as is the role of water for fish forits flourishing and existence. Thus, in the field of Medical Science, the technological diagnostic instruments which has developed with the passage of time has helped in the development of the study of Medical Science by leaps and bounds. Diagnosis of a patient is the first step for any patient for his treatment. So, we need to be grateful to those scientists who have invented the various medical instruments, which has made diagnosis in Medical Science and as a whole, the life of the modern men disease free and in the long run helped him/her in increasing his/her longevity.

Here are few medical diagnostic instruments which have made diagnosis and treatment simple for medical practitioners and thus led to the overall development of Medical Science in the long run: –

  • STETHOSCOPE

In the field of Medical diagnosis, the medical instrument Stethoscope holds an important and pivotal place. The invention of the first Stethoscope in 1816 by French doctor Rene Laennec revolutionised Medical Science by giving a new way to listen to sounds inside the body. Thus, Stethoscope became an indispensable part of the Medical profession. Laennec called his invention a Stethoscope, after the Greek words, for ‘I see’ and ‘the chest’. By the 1850s the use of Stethoscope by the Physicians became a common practise.

On its invention, Rene Laennec commented “I was surprised and gratified to hear the beating of the heart”. By using the Stethoscope, Laennec diagnosed many ailments like bronchitis, tuberculosis and pneumonia. He published his finding regarding the Stethoscope in Trait’ede L’ Auscultation me’diate (A treatise on the Diseases of the Chest) in 1819. After the invention of the Stethoscope by Rene Laennec many new innovative and advanced forms of Stethoscope like Wooden Stethoscope, Early Binaural Stethoscope, Cylindrical Stethoscope, Hughes Stethoscope, Hare’s Stethoscope to the present-day Littman Stethoscope has evolved with the passage of time. At the same time, we need to be indebted and remain grateful to French Doctor Rene Laennec for his untiring and his innovative efforts in inventing the Stethoscope. An invention without which discovery diagnosis in Medical Science would have been much clumsy.

  • MICROSCOPE

The historical evolution of Microscope is directly and proportionately related to the microbiologists urge to study minute to the minutest particles in the realm of Medical Science. As the newer and advanced Microscope were invented so were the fight against microscopic germs, as disease causing germs were revealed. Ultimately these Microscopes formed as an instrument for further research and development in Medical Science. Historically a Dutch Textile merchant and Scientist Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1732) may be credited with the invention of the Microscope. Van Leeuwenhoek findings were published by the Royal Society from 1673.

The gradual evolution of Microscopes took place and gradually Simple Compound Microscope comprising two lenses because of which lenses were twice magnified. British Scientist Robert Hooke’s Compound Microscope uses a water filled container to focus light from a lamp on the specimen being observed. Then came Lyonnet’s Microscope which was designed by Dutch naturalist Pierre Lyonnet which consisted of lens mounted on the top of a series of ball and socket joints attached to small dissecting tables. With further research, British instrument maker Edward Culpeper designed the Culpeper Microscope which is a Compound Microscope with an inflexible upright style. Then came to the field of Medical Research Simple Microscope which was very similar to the one used by the British Naturalist Charles Darwin on his explanatory voyage abroad the Beagle.

The Dutch Scientist Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek is considered the first expert microbiologist who built a simple microscope using a bi-convex lens called Leeuwenhoek’s Microscope. Another Microscope evolved with the passage of time which was the Polarising Microscope which used polarized light— with light waves undulating in a single plane. Next came Cary Could Microscope by manufacturer Cary, London which consisted of three lenses. The next to evolve in Microscopic studies was the Binocular Microscope which was less strenuous to the eyes and hence can be used for a longer period. Further came the electron Microscope which uses an electro-beam rather than light to form an image and allows for increased magnification and improved resolution. In this way as time progressed the scientist with their very innovative mind and due to their inquisitive nature could invent various sophisticated microscopes. These inventions not only added to the richness of the branch of Medical Science but also at the same time cured mankind of many epidemics and diseases.

  • X-rays

The German physicist Wilhelm Rontgen is credited with the discovery of electromagnetic radiations called X-rays in 1895 while investigating Cathode rays. X-rays are used in diagnosing whether there is any tumour, dental decay and most importantly whether there is any crack or fracture in any bones in the human body. Thus, X-rays has revolutionised medical diagnosis by taking the images of the body in a painless and an non-invasive way. Wilhelm Roentgen was awarded the first Noble Prize in Physics in the year 1901 for the discovery of X-rays which was a path breaking initiative on his part to make medical diagnosis easier and simpler. Due to this Mr Wilhelm Roentgen is known as the father of diagnostic radiology.

Roentgen called the rays he discovered as X-rays due to its unknown nature, though it is also true that the other nomenclature for the X-rays is also Roentgen rays. The first X-rays to be done on human body was that of the wife of Roentgen, Anna Bertha’s hand. When she saw her skeleton, she said, “I have seen my death”.

Some necessary precautions are to be taken while doing X-rays. With few exceptions at low levels of radiations as one is exposed to during X-rays does not cause much harm. Yet, at the same time exposure to X-rays during early pregnancy may result in the child developing leukaemia. However, the positives of X-rays far outweigh its negatives. In fact X-rays based diagnosis in medical science has become an indispensable part of medical science and in spite of its few drawbacks it has become a necessary part of early diagnosis and care of patients all over the world. The negative effects of X-rays can be curtailed by shielding those parts of the body with a lead apron, especially the body parts like ovaries, testes and thyroid.

  • MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING

The phenomenon of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI) was described independently, but almost simultaneously by Bloch an Purcell in 1946.For this discovery of MRI or NMRI, they were jointly awarded the Noble Prize in Physics in 1952. Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a non-invasive method of mapping the internal structure of the body which completely avoids the use of the ionizing radiations and appears to be un-associated with any significant hazards,

MRI works by employing radio frequency (RF) radiation in the presence of a carefully controlled magnetic field. MRI has the additional advantage of being able to manipulate the contrast between different tissues which is done by highlighting physical changes by altering the pattern of RF pulses which is applied.

MRI is often used to detect, diagnose, treat and monitor patients in Medical Science. MRI scanners are particularly used to image the soft tissues or non-bony parts of the body. Images of the spinal cord, brain, nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons can be visualised more clearly by dint of MRI then CT- scans or X-rays. There is a special type of MRI known as fMRI or functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging which is used to observe brain structure and its images. MRI has least harmful effects in comparison to a X-rays. However, at the same time, doing an MRI is more expensive than X-rays.

Without the discovery and the mass use of the various diagnostic instruments Medical Science could not have reached such heights as it is today. In simple words, the various diagnostic instruments from its original discovery to its present evolution has helped the medical practitioners in making medical diagnosis simple and easier. At the same time, without these medical diagnostic instruments it can be rightly said that the study of Medical Science would have been quite clumsy. Moreover, as diagnosis is the first step in the treatment of a patient so the new age of Medical Science has certainly led by these diagnostic instruments. Therefore, we need to remain indebted to the untiring efforts of those innovative brains who has brought to light the various diagnostic instruments in this world and gradually with the passage of time has modernized them thereby making life easy for both the medical practitioners as well as their patients.

JNANDEEP BORA is Author , 42 years old ,a senior judicial assistant in The Guwahati High Court. He is the Winner of International Essay Competition, May, 2019 organized by Monomousumi Services.

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