Get to know your medical technology

Take a closer look at some of the fancy machines and special gadgets integral to your healthcare.

Hospitals are amazing places filled with a variety of medical technologies. They’re all designed to help clinicians find out what’s wrong with patients and get them on the road to recovery as soon as possible.

While Superman had X-ray vision to help him save the world, there are now many different ways that doctors can look inside the body. Tim Barker of medical device consulting firm Perceptus gives us the low down on just a few.

CT scanner

Despite being discovered over 100 years ago, the humble X-ray is still useful. Modern medical imaging scanners now use X-rays to view the internal structures of the body in amazing new ways.

These computed tomography (CT or CAT) scanners take hundreds of images and combine them to form a virtual slice through the body. If a sequence of images along the body are stacked (a bit like slices in a loaf of bread), then a 3D image can be created.

A CT scanner creates images by using the fact that different parts of the body, such as bone, muscle, and fluids absorb different amounts of X-rays as they pass through the body. Because bones are much denser than other tissues, they absorb a lot of X-rays and tend to stand out brightly on CT images.

MRI scanner

Another piece of medical technology is the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner. It uses a different way of seeing what’s going on inside the body.

A very strong magnetic field is generated within the large donut-shaped scanner. These magnets make hydrogen in water molecules line up with the magnetic field, a bit like iron filings do. When radio waves are applied to the body, energy is produced by the hydrogen and the signal is picked up by a receiving coil or antenna. Small differences in the water content of each body part create different signals. A computer is used to process this information and generate an image of the scanned region.

This means that MRI scanners are great for looking at many types of soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments and cartilage, but aren’t so useful when looking at bones because they don’t contain a lot of water.

Joint replacements

Putting the Bionic Man back together relied on the use of other technology to repair and replace his broken body parts using medical implants.

Hip and knee joint replacements are now used in over 60,000 patients each year in Australia, and they are one of most successful operations performed, with nearly 95% lasting more than 10 years. Just think about that – not many moving parts in a car last that long before needing to be replaced!

Only certain types of materials can be used to withstand the large forces placed on them and to tolerate the unique environment within the human body. In a hip joint replacement, there are two parts that make up the ball-and-socket joint, with the ball usually made from cobalt chrome alloy and the socket made from polyethylene, a type of plastic. The ball sits on a stem within the femur, and it is held in place using bone cement or using a material such as titanium that allows bone to grow directly onto it.

Having to withstand millions of steps each year for many years means that improvements are always being looked for so that joint replacements last even longer.

Medical implants are also used to:

  • Replace faulty heart valves with mechanical designs
  • Repair damage in the spine with artificial discs
  • Generate electrical signals in the heart using pacemakers
  • Restore circulation in blood vessels using metallic stents
  • Bring vision back to cataract sufferers with an artificial lens
  • Enable deaf people to hear again via a cochlear implant

We will continue to see new technology used in many different ways to enable people to once again live happy and healthy lives.

Recommended reading - Warm up recipe guide

Recipes

Chai spiced almond milk recipe

A soothing wintry beverage, with just the right blend of spices

Read more
Recipes

Baked Pumpkin, Chickpea and Brown Rice Salad with Crispy Pumpkin Seeds recipe

A comforting winter salad, with an invigorating blend of textures and flavours

Read more
Recipes

Pink snapper and potato cakes with salsa verde recipe

Deliciously light and full of succulent flavour – this is not your average fish and chip shop feast

Read more
Recipes

Coconut roasted pumpkin and apple soup recipe

A hearty, belly-warming soup to rejuvenate and nourish

Read more
Recipes

Quinoa, berry and yoghurt porridge recipe

Blend up a revitalising morning feast – this porridge is bursting with flavour and goodness

Read more
Recipes

Stuffed breakfast mushrooms recipe

Start your day out right with this filling, flavoursome breakfast

Read more
Recipes

Pear crumble tea cake recipe

The classic tea cake gets a fresh makeover from Thoroughly Nourished Life

Read more
Recipes

Pecan, buckwheat, coconut and date granola recipe

Superfoods ahoy! This refreshing, crunchy blend is one sure way to get your morning fired up

Read more
Recipes

Vegetarian laksa recipe

Fill up on colourful winter veggies in a light, creamy laksa

Read more
Recipes

Porcini mushroom and kale buckwheat risotto recipe

A creamy, comforting risotto, full of the flavoursome goodness of mushrooms

Read more
Recipes

Warm coconut and caramel pudding recipe

A soft, wholesome pudding overflowing with natural caramel – now that's our kind of dessert

Read more
Recipes

Chipotle sweet potato soup with black bean salsa

This spicy, fragrant sweet potato soup will banish any thought of the winter chills

Read more
Recipes

Minty lemon and banana hot cakes recipe

What Sunday mornings were made for – luscious, wholesome pancakes, with the perfect amount of zest

Read more
Recipes

Ultimate roasted vegetables recipe

Roast those root veggies with the perfect infusion of herbs and spices

Read more
Recipes

Peach cobbler recipe

Savour the sweetness of this scrumptious, fruity treat

Read more
Recipes

Goji and coconut bliss balls recipe

Bliss out on the super-goodness of these delectable treats

Read more
Recipes

Mushrooms and feta on toast recipe

Wake up to the succulent flavours of crumbly feta, fresh greens, and sautéed mushrooms

Read more
Recipes

Aromatic and spicy Indian lamb curry recipe

Fragrant spices, succulent lamb, and slow cooking at its most nourishing

Read more
Recipes

Quinoa chocolate cake recipe

Soft and succulent, this cake is a decadent delight. Trust us, nobody will guess it's quinoa

Read more
Recipes

Apple and oat pancakes recipe

Warm, oaty pancakes served with rich stewed apples – the perfect way to brighten up your weekend

Read more
Recipes

Shakshuka baked eggs recipe

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, this invigorating, spice-infused dish is a warming feast

Read more
Recipes

Ginger coconut black rice pudding with roasted rhubarb recipe

A vibrant, fruity dessert with a twist of Indonesian flavour

Read more
Recipes

Curried cauliflower soup with toasted chickpeas recipe

The nutty goodness of chickpeas takes this creamy soup to delicious new levels

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.