Reshaping Surgical Practices Through Medical Technology

With the overwhelming amount and speed of technological advancements occurring in today’s world, it has already become quite the cliché to say that technology has transformed every industry that we know. In addition to businesses, even the education and healthcare sectors are experiencing evolution with the growth of modern technology.

These improvements in the education and healthcare sectors are coming at a crucial time. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that the U.S. will see a shortage of around 121,900 physicians by 2032. Considering the drastic consequences of COVID-19, medical innovations have become more vital to the healthcare industry.

Today, the medtech field is taking center stage with more efficient and immersive platforms that allow medical practitioners to receive proper training.

How Medical Training Is Changing

With the pandemic necessitating more creative and engaging ways to instruct medical students, medtech has opened up new avenues for learning.

  • Virtual reality enriches education

Virtual reality already has numerous applications in the medical field, but education is one area in which it offers much promise. In 2016, cancer surgeon Ahfi Ahmed offered a glimpse into the future of education with VR through the world’s first operation streamed online in 360-degree video. Students and surgeons-in-training alike were able to have an immersive experience of a real operation through this livestream.

As VR can provide visuals that better mimic real-life scenarios, students also gain a deeper understanding of the tools and techniques they need for surgical practice, from using a medical vacuum pump for tool sterilization to proper protocols in the operating room.

VR simulations allow students to take on usually high-risk assignments without the real risks involved. They also offer a more interactive e-learning platform for teachers and students.

  • Medical education continues online

As new COVID-19 variants threaten the possibility of a physical return to school, medical education remains in place online despite the possible barriers to learning. 

One organization that has responded to the learning concerns is National Bioskills Laboratories, which developed a platform that streams video output from medical equipment and surgical devices. This allows surgeons and students around the world to gain in-depth knowledge of the newest technologies and techniques.

Many learning platforms have also now created online certificate courses for students of various levels of expertise. These courses also cover a variety of specializations, from general anatomical topics to aesthetic procedures.

  • Tactile anatomical models provide better simulation

Advancements in the building of anatomical models have also made it possible to simulate operations on structures with the help of augmented reality. 

Swiss company VirtaMed responded to pandemic restrictions last year by launching mobile teaching units that visit hospitals. Surgeons were then allowed to practice performing laparoscopic procedures in their mobile simulation labs. These labs were equipped with anatomical models that replicate complications through photorealistic graphics and visual guides to accomplish the operation.

Technological Advancements in Medical Practice

Aside from surgical training, medtech innovations are also changing how surgeons perform procedures in the operating room. These are just a number of the many ways the surgical field is evolving.

  • Robotics allows for precise, quick operations

Robotics presents greater possibilities for surgeries, as surgical robots can perform tasks with precision and greater flexibility. They can assist surgeons in doing operations quickly and efficiently.

California-based company Levita Magnetics has paved the way for robotics to play a larger role in minimally invasive surgeries. They were at the helm of the world’s first robot-assisted surgical procedure, which was a laparoscopic cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal. The Levita Robotic Platform ultimately aims to perform laparoscopic procedures with fewer incisions and less discomfort, leading to faster recovery time for patients.

  • 3D printing can create complex models

While 3D printing has existed for a long time, its applications in the surgical field are only beginning to take greater shape. An early revolutionary example is how doctors were able to save a nine-month-old baby’s life in 2016 with the help of a 3D-printed replica of the heart. In 2019, Israeli scientists created a 3D-printed heart with human tissue and vessels, which was a step in building 3D prints of organs that function much like their real counterparts.

Today, the United Kingdom has approved trials for the world’s first 3D-printed high-tibial osteotomy devices. These are set to dramatically improve comfort for individuals with arthritis.

The future continues to pose both opportunities and challenges in the medical sector. The cooperation of humans and these promising medical technology applications pose great potential in increasing access to surgery and improving performance.

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