Medicine is constantly changing and evolving to embrace new knowledge, technologies, and innovation from those working within the field. Read more below about just five of the things that have changed medicine for the better over the years, and ushered in new hope for medical practitioners, and their patients.
1. The Vaccine
Never have we been more aware of the value of vaccines than we are right now. These invaluable products enable us to strive toward mass immunity, with the aim of eventually eradicating devastating viruses from the world altogether.
Some of the greatest success stories include Polio, Tetanus, and Rubella – all of which are now almost totally eradicated from many parts of the world.
Vaccines typically take many years to develop, which is why the past year will go down in history as an incredible demonstration of modern medicine and human innovation.
2. The Surgical Retractor
Surgical retractors have been around for many years, but the design has undergone considerable development throughout the twenty-first century.
At its most basic, a retractor is an implement used within surgical procedures to draw back the edges of an incision – or hold organs away from the operating site – in order to ensure that the surgeon has a clear view. The first devices were, of course, incredibly primitive compared with what they are today. Whereas surgical assistants would once have spent hours holding the retractor for the surgeon, self-retaining devices are now available.
Since then, June Medical have made a number of improvements to the original design of the Lone Star retractor, adding a cam lock mechanism that makes single-handed adjustments possible.
3. The X-Ray
X-rays enable doctors to see beyond the patients’ external appearance, and to view injuries that may have been sustained beneath the skin. Broken and fractured bones, tumours, dislocations and a wide range of other afflictions can all be viewed with the help of x-ray technology.
At the tail-end of the nineteenth century, the x-ray machine was introduced into the medical world – much to the relief of doctors who, until that point, had relied largely on guesswork, and to the patients, who often suffered as a result of human error.
4. Hand Washing
While it may seem entirely alien to us now, the idea of going about one’s day – even as a doctor or surgeon – without continuously pausing to wash one’s hands was once the norm. For one thing, doctors of the time valued speed – particularly when anaesthesia (another revolutionary discovery) remained an unknown, and methods for stemming significant bleeds were limited. For another, no one – not even the brightest minds of the era – understood much about germs, infections, and the need to maintain a sterile field.
Louis Pasteur is often hailed as a pioneer of germ theory, and one of the leading reasons why surgeons, doctors and nurses began to wash their hands between patients.
5. Organ Transplantation
Organ transplant surgery remains relatively new, having only begun in the mid-twentieth century when Dr Joseph Murray transplanted a patient’s kidney into his twin brother’s body. The innovation saw rapid take up within the medical world and, with the introduction of immunosuppressive medication, surgeons across the globe were able to pioneer new techniques and methodologies for transplanting a long list of organs from healthy patients into those who would otherwise have faced little chance of recovery.