myDigitalLife Blogs

Blogs about Digital, Lifestyle, current news and opinions

More amazing technological (medical) advances

Posted by: Dissol

Dissol

 

I guess being stuck in medical places, has turned my mind to some of the incredible advances in medical science.  The digital age has produced some incredible advances, but these are combined with some associated problems.

 

Data.  In particular medical data.  Modern medical practices, and techniques have given us the ability to really collect a huge amount of information.  But almost too much information.  Medical science, & IT, have had to come up with some incredible advances with how they will sift through the data, to find the useful bits.

 

Take a simple CT scan.  A "Cat Scan", and the associated MRI scanners.  Basically these are machines that have a rotating xray camera which can virtually slice through the body, in real time, to show the different internals.  It only takes about 30 seconds for a human to pass through the machine.  But the increasing detail that these machines can show means that there is a massive amount of data for the medicos to deal with.

 

When these machines 1st came out, they would take around 100 slices through the body, which corresponds to 50MB of data.  These days the machines are much quicker & work to a higher resolution.  So the same procedure  gives 24,000 slices, which equates to 20GB of data.  But now, also increasingly they are using these machines over a time period, to be able to see things such as heart defects or blood flow through the brain.  The same imaging spread over 5 seconds would produce 1TB of data.  One patient, one data set.

 

So the medicos can no longer look through individual xrays...sorting through 24,000 (or more!!) pictures to find the specific data they want.  Amazingly, the answer has come from video games!  The modern computer games which our children & OS love to play, require increasingly more advanced computer graphics.  Using these graphic cards, the medicos can manipulate the data, and just look at the specific items they want to.

 

One breakthrough has been in virtual autopsies.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bws6vWM1v6g  Imagine a large iPhone laid out as a table.  The images from the CT scan of the dead body is then displayed on this table.  Using the same techniques to move, enlarge, rotate, the operator can look through the dead body, to find the cause of death.  This is so much neater, and easier, than dissecting a dead body, anyone who tried dissecting frogs in Biology lessons at school will know what a messy business that can be!!!

 

But OK, this is pretty depressing...I mean autopsies happen too late.  What are the implications for the living?  Well, this is where things are getting exciting.  They are linking this work, with haptic touch, and functional MRI's.  So, for example a person with a heart condition (and this is close to home as my own father had a massive heart attack this week), can have an MRI taken, over some seconds.  This then will enable  the medicos to build up a fully functioning 3D picture of the heart.  The heart specialist can see the heart beating.  But then using a small rod, he can press on the rod, and (again, using gaming technology) he can virtually "feel" the heart beating against the rod.  If he presses harder he can (virtually) push the rod through the wall of the heart, and see, and feel each valve opening.  He can "feel" for constrictions, or thickening in the blood vessels, or detect a faulty valve, before even actually going into theatre.  He can measure, precisely the size, and diameter of particular arteries, and see them in operation, so he can better decide what surgery is needed, and precisely the size of any replacements.

 

Amazing medical science...and all because of the breakthroughs in gaming consoles, and graphics cards…  So do your bit, and encourage your children to play more games!!!

Comments (16)Add Comment
redsaid
...
written by redsaid, February 04, 2011
First of all, sorry to hear about your dad!! How is he doing now?

It IS amazing, isn't it? And to think that, in the end, we can all amount to 1TB of data! (Sadly, I take up so much space, my scans will probably amount to 2TB!)
Dissol
...
written by Dissol, February 04, 2011
Red, thanks for asking. He is in the middle of a critical 72 hours...so all holding our breath. Whatever happens, I have been told that I am unfit to fly out, so dealing with that.

No, just our physical bodies amount to 1TB (depending on resolution). But there are some calculations somewhere concerning the estimated memory size of the human brain...I should try to dig that out. Although having said that the human memory is about the most useless storage device. Time & time again, the frailty of the human memory has been demonstrated, and yet courts still find people guilty relying solely on the memory of "witnesses".
Dissol
...
written by Dissol, February 04, 2011
Actually, all in all 2011 has been a real shit year so far.
the new james rond
...
written by the new james rond, February 05, 2011
Hey dissol its a good post. Thanks

If it makes you feel better I'm also having problems with 2011. So cheer up. I think you should paint again.
Dissol
...
written by Dissol, February 05, 2011
Thanks for the comments, but knowing that other people are having problems is no comfort. I thought today started bad when I slipped transferring to the toilet this morning, and gave myself a welt on my head...lots of blood, and can see my eyebrow now. But then the phone went, to find our neighbour was attacked this morning while out walking her dog. smilies/sad.gifsmilies/cry.gifsmilies/sad.gif
Doolally
...
written by Doolally, February 05, 2011
Sorry to hear about your Dad Dissol. Hope he gets better soon.

As for letting my kids play more TV games... NO WAY!!! it has been proven kids that play alot of TV games are less able to concentrate than kids who don't, it has also been proven listening to music while studying helps you remember more... And here you thought peoples memory was bad because of their brainssmilies/wink.gifsmilies/grin.gif
the new james rond
...
written by the new james rond, February 05, 2011
What happened to your neighbour? Is she ok?smilies/cry.gif
the new james rond
...
written by the new james rond, February 05, 2011
and your Dad?
Dissol
...
written by Dissol, February 05, 2011
Ah! But the indirect benefit of gaming is increased graphics capabilities. Previously scientists had to rely on huge supercomputers, whereas now a standard computer with a top of the range graphics card does the job. Gaming is such a profitable business that it was worth spending time & money on improving the cards. If the industry had been driven by medical science alone, we would never have got this far.

Neighbour is home, sore, with a broken rib, but accepting that this unfortunate event could have happened anywhere, including her home country, Germany. Father remains in ICU on the other side of the planet. But he has made it through first 24 critical hours. Prognosis gets better with each hour. He has late stage Parkinson's Disease, which adds complications.
the new james rond
...
written by the new james rond, February 06, 2011
It is times like these I wish I could paint something nice for you dissol. Hey, perhaps I should try and just call it modern art? smilies/smiley.gif

Hope your father gets better soon and my thoughts are with you and your family.
Dissol
...
written by Dissol, February 07, 2011
thanks for the kind comments. he seems to be through the most critical bit now.

i do believe that anyone can paint / draw. it just takes practice. For sure there are some amazing artists, one of which i am not, but most people, with some application can enjoy creating art. Too often it is stifled when we are children. So when we start again, we draw as that child would have done. but practice, practice, practice!! Gary Player was once told he was a lucky golf player, and he agreed, but pointed out that the more he practiced the luckier he became!!!
redsaid
...
written by redsaid, February 07, 2011
Glad to hear about your dad's recovery. I hope he continues to improve! Also glad to hear that your neighbour survived the ordeal. Furious that it happened in the first place, though! Also furious (not with you, just at the general injustice and unfairness of it) that you have been injured again.

As for the 1TB of data... yes, ha ha, I knew you meant physical bodies and that was what I was implying as well. I doubt that my brain holds more than 1kb of important data. Or at least, that's what it feels like today! I'm having a SLOW day, intellectually. Or rather, slower than usual. smilies/wink.gif
Doolally
...
written by Doolally, February 07, 2011
Glad your dad is doing better. But more importantly how you doing? I sometimes wonder about tv games. My youngest is slightly Autistic and I have found after 20 minutes of TV games he is climbing the walls better than Spiderman! Yet if I put on one of his favourite dvd's I have a lamb. My eldest plays for hours and it doesn't seem to affect him at all! So you gonna look into that and see what the effects are? Sort of homework for while you only have one arm
Dissol
...
written by Dissol, February 08, 2011
Doolally, I have to admit that I did write that rather tongue in cheek. My youngest (13) is restricted to when and how long he can play games. Nothing at all during the week, and we try to limit him from playing too long on a weekend. I have noted the same effect too... If he goes swimming, or even watches a DVD, then he is quiet, but often he is more fractious after playing video games (and that is not because the games are violent, as I discourage that sort of game too...I really find some of the games rather too violent, and blood thirsty. But then I am the sort that did not let him have toy guns either... It would seem that I am not alone in noticing this, and I agree, some work ought to be done.

However, the inescapable truth is that it is the gaming market which has pushed the graphics cards, allowing medical science to reap the rewards.

I shall be in one of these scanners later today again. Then I shall have the torture of nerve conductivity tests. If someone shoving needles into your muscles, applying enough electrical current through them to cause your muscles to spasm involuntarily, and then move them about inside sounds painful & unpleasant...then it is. Hopefully they will find a solution which will give me back full use of left hand though, so I hope the punishment will be worth it. The likelihood will be cervical spinal fusion, which will probably put me back in hospital for a while. All my plans for this year have long since been thrown out, and I am not making any plans whatsoever at the moment. This year is proving to be a really testing one. I had promised Mrs Dissol that 2011 would be an easy year, and I would use it to recuperate from the madness of 2010. That prediction is out already, as I have am so far behind on all manner of things, that I shall be having to do 7 day weeks again to catch up. I also need to factor in a trip over to see my parents too. Recent events have made me realise just how old they are. I last saw them briefly several years ago as I was able to take a couple of days with them when I was doing some business in the UK.

Bizarrely, when I was first disabled, I took stock of my life, and decided that I was not spending enough quality time with my family, and I tried to mend that bad habit...but I soon regressed to form, and there always seems to be a reason why I can't do that... Last year it was FIFA…

Then as soon as I am fit, I shall have to jump on a plane to the UK. But I shall wait until I am not a burden to others before that happens.
the new james rond
...
written by the new james rond, February 08, 2011
dissol - I tried to paint the fretwork for my new veranda over the weekend. It was really painful after the first hour or so and I had to stop. I just didn’t like it. I phoned my old painter to come and finish the job today. At some things I'm really good and with most other things I'm just pathetic.smilies/smiley.gif I know this for a fact!
Doolally
...
written by Doolally, February 08, 2011
You must be feeling better if you lecturing me againsmilies/grin.gif So all you need to do now is get fit! I am sure there is some technological advancement on its way to cure Grumpy hospital patients smilies/tongue.gif

Add your 2Cents
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy

Member Login