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Advances in medical technology have been responsible for extraordinary advances in health care within the last 25 years. Breakthroughs in medications, therapies and medical equipment have provided new ways of treating diseases and injuries that were considered disabling or even fatal as recently as the 1980s.
Universities, pharmaceutical companies and other research facilities invest hundreds of millions of dollars every year in efforts to develop new medical inventions. In most cases, the research doesn’t result in a usable device. Every year, however, a handful of exciting new devices and therapies hit the market that promise new solutions to medical problems that have plagued humanity for centuries. Here are five exciting and recent medical inventions.

Breast Tomosynthesis

One in four cancer deaths among American women are caused by breast cancer, the second most common type of cancer affecting women. As high as that statistic may be, however, it’s 20 percent lower than it was a decade ago, thanks to improved screening techniques for breast cancers.
Tomosynthesis can best be described as 3-D mammography. The Federal Food and Drug Administration approved the technique in 2011. A specialized imaging machine is used to take dozens of x-ray scans of breast tissue from multiple angles. The images are then compiled by a computer into a three dimensional portrait of the inside of the breast.
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the more responsive it is to treatment. Three-dimensional breast cancer screening increases the likelihood of detecting small cells in the earliest disease stages that may be obscured by denser surrounding tissue.
Breast tomosynthesis also reduces the need for additional testing. Right now, one in ten routine mammograms yields inconclusive results, necessitating a repeat mammogram. This frightens many women unnecessarily.
Many cancer specialists fully expect breast tomosynthesis to replace conventional mammography within the next decade.

Ultra-quick Laser Cataract Surgery

Cataracts are dead cells that accumulate over the lens of the eye, causing vision to cloud. Seventy-five percent of Americans over the age of 60 have some signs of cataracts and 1.6 million cataract removal operations are performed in the U.S. every year. Conventional cataract surgery involves removing the lens with a surgical blade and implanting an intraocular lens in its place.
Increasingly, laser technology has been used in cataract removal. This technique was pioneered in conjunction with the LASIK (Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis) refractive surgical procedure used for sharpening eyesight, but its use in cataract procedures is new. A laser beam is shined on the eye for one quadrillionth of a second, creating a perfect hole in the lens. The damaged lens is extracted using ultrasound techniques before the intraocular lens is implanted. The laser procedure has cut down on the amount of time a surgeon must spend working with the sensitive tissues of the eye, which has increased the success rate of cataract procedures immensely.

Optical Melanoma Scans

Over the course of their lifetimes, one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer. Melanoma is one of the least common types of skin cancer, but it’s also the skin cancer with the highest mortality rate. Early detection of melanomas leads to early intervention, which saves lives.
The FDA recently approved a handheld device that improves melanoma diagnoses. This optical scanner shoots 10 specific wavelengths of light over moles and other suspicious appearing skin structures, and then uses complex algorithms to analyze the structure’s appearance in conjunction with an archive of melanoma images. In one of its clinical trails, this scanner was able to identify 98 percent of melanomas correctly.

Bacterial Identification Through Mass Spectrometry

The definitive diagnosis of bacterial infections is typically done by inoculating agar with a specimen of blood, urine or some other body fluid, and waiting until the bacterial culture grows on the laboratory medium. This process can take many days, which is a long time when treatment depends upon accurate diagnosis.
Increasingly, diagnosticians are using a technique called matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI), which can identify bacterial specimens much more quickly than conventional identification procedures. The MALDI process is also considerably more accurate and less expensive than current bacterial identification techniques. Clinicians hail MALDI as a major advance in the treatment of infectious diseases.

Neurostimulators for Migraine Headaches

Every year, 50 million Americans suffer headaches so severe that they seek medical attention. Many of these people are migraine sufferers. Migraine headaches so intense that they interfere with normal everyday activities. While migraines can be managed with medications, these medications have side effects that many migraine sufferers find unpleasant.
A new device promises relief for migraine sufferers. It is an implantable neurostimulator device that allows migraine sufferers to block impulses traveling from the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) nerve bundle. The device has already been approved in Europe where 68 percent of patients reported relief with its use. The FDA is currently investigating this device for approval in the U.S.

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About Author

Dan Geller is a nurse practitioner and guest author at, where you can find information about how to get a medical degree online.

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