Nov 9, 2011Science and Technology
Medical technology trends to watch

The year 2011 has been monumental in terms of medical innovations and technology advancements. The FDA has approved 35 new drugs this year, and the digital wave has swept through the medical community.  This wave of new technology has brought along with it a flood of new medical technology trends to watch.   


These medical innovations have been tapped by experts from the Cleveland Clinic as the leading innovations that will impact the healthcare industry in 2012.  From medical apps to sports medicine, there is a little something for everyone in this mix.  Read on to learn more about these up-and-coming innovations in the medical field.


Earlier detection of lung cancer enabled by CT scan  


Lung cancer is often detected by chest x-ray, until now.  A low-dose of radiation paired with spiral computed tomography (spiral CT) has demonstrated a great advantage over the traditional chest x-ray when it comes to catching early signs of tumor development in the lungs. 


The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) reported a 20% drop in the number of lung cancer-related deaths among patients who received a CT scan when compared to those who received a chest x-ray.    Curing cancer is much more likely if the trouble is detected early enough.  More than 60% of lung cancers are curable if caught in the early stages.  With earlier detection of cancerous tumors, the survival rate may increase and this technology will save lives. 


In 2012, watch for changes in the screening guidelines for lung cancer.  The results from NLST should lead to more CT scans of patients at risk for lung cancer.   


Concussion management for athletes  


The incidence of concussions in high-contact sports such as football, boxing, and soccer has finally set off loud alarms with team doctors and athletic trainers.  There is no doubt that concussions are a serious head injury, and a recent estimate said up to 40 percent of all football players experience a concussion annually. 


Thanks to a new technology and assessment process, concussion management for athletes is becoming a reality in 2012.  Concussion management provides a system to assess and collect detailed information about the impact a blow to the head has on normal motor and cognitive behavior, on an individual basis. 


The system starts with a baseline assessment of motor and cognitive skills for each athlete at the beginning of the season.  If an injury occurs, this initial assessment gives doctors a reference to point which helps them evaluate the real impact of a concussion for a given athlete.  The assessments of behavior are only part of this new trend.  


In 2012, athletes wearing a mouthgaurd equipped with a special instrument developed with blue-tooth technology will be engaging the concussion management system.  This instrument is design to quantify the amount of energy absorbed by a head-on hit, in real time.  Otherwise, the mouthgaurd is no different from a standard mouthgaurd.   


Here are some other medical technology trends to watch in 2012


Mobile medical apps that house a plethora of information can be accessed from tablets even in hospitals where cell phone use is prohibited. 


Next generation genetic sequencing equipment has dropped the cost factor and upped the speed of the human genome project. 


Quantum leaps in prosthetic technology are leading to the most realistic artificial limbs to ever be worn by a human. 


An FDA-approved medical implant device that can help doctors treat and prevent brain aneurisms may reduce the number of stokes and deaths with a non-surgical procedure .


Major milestones have been achieved in the process of collating, organizing, and accessing healthcare data which will reduce the costs of healthcare, with the utmost respect for privacy concerns. 


An evolutionary throw-back technology has spawned the development of a new diabetes therapy which channels glucose excretion through the urine, with a sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) protein inhibitor. 


Genetic modification of insects are showing promising potential for halting the spread of malaria from disease-carrying mosquitoes by limiting reproductive efforts. 

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