Several articles have been written about the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2013. One of the most touted of these lists was published by the Cleveland Clinic on October 31, 2012 for the year of 2013. This year’s list was published on October 16, 2013 listing the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2014. The list for 2013 focused largely on new medical devices, while the list for 2014 was directed more toward new treatments. Whether looking forward to the coming year, or backward to the year just past, the best of the best medical innovations, both new medical devices, as well as new treatments, are presented below:
Seven outstanding new medical devices:
1. A bionic eye in the early stages of development that appears to be helpful for patients with retinitis pigmentosa.
2. A patient-controlled electronic nerve stimulated that is implanted just behind the bridge of the nose and when activated sends signals to the brain that will block intractable headaches and migraines.
3. A hand-help optical scanner for the detection of melanoma, the most deadly of skin cancers.
4. A femtosecond laser for use in bladeless cataract surgery.
5. Modular stents for repairing aortic aneurysms.
6. 3-D mammography, called Digital Breast Tomosynthesis or DBT, which is reported to increase the detection of small breast tumors by approximately 47 percent.
7. A neurostimulator used to prevent epileptic seizures. The device is implanted beneath the scalp and sends impulses to the brain to prevent or reducing episodes of epileptic seizures.
Seven Innovative medical treatments.
8. Bariatric surgery, an old technique, is being used to treat patients with Type II Diabetes. The weight loss achieved has been shown to frequently put Type II diabetes in possibly permanent remission.
9. New drugs are available for the treatment of prostate cancer. It is hoped that these new therapeutic agents will be able to control cases of advanced prostate cancer, making them manageable as a chronic disease.
10. New direct acting, oral anti-viral drugs are being developed to treat hepatitis C. and it has been reported that they may be 90 percent or more effective in treating hepatitis C than older drugs.
11. Human relaxin-2 for heart attacks. A synthetic form of the hormone, human relaxin-2, has been shown to improve heart failure symptoms when administered by infusion for a 48 hour period following an acute heart attack.
12. Fecal transplants for treatment for C.dificile diarrhea. C. dificile is an opportunistic bacterium found in the gut which often becomes virulent in patients who have been on broad spectrum antibiotics which have killed off the”good bacteria” normally present in a their intestines. Transplant of sanitized fecal material via nasogastric tube has been shown to repopulate a person’s normal intestinal flora, bringing the C. dificile infection under control and curing the diarrhea. Fortunately for many, the intestinal bacteria for transplant have been miniaturized into a capsule that can be swallowed, removing the need for the dreaded nasogastric transplant methodology.
13. Treatment of B-cell lymphomas and leukemias with B cell receptor pathway inhibitors has been shown to slow the growth of the abnormal blood cells.
14. Immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Immunotherapy, or the use of antibodies used to target tumor cells, or other methods to rev up the patient’s immune system, have long been the goal of scientists. It seems that this goal is now well on the way to becoming a reality. The use of the drug ipilimumab is achieving positive results against melanomas, kidney and lung cancers. Another immunotherapeutic technique called chimeric antigen receptor therapy has been applied with success against various leukemias.
New health information management techniques.
The enactment of the Health Insurance Protection and Portability Act (HIPPA) in 1996 has dramatically changed the practice of medicine. It mandated strict confidentiality of patients’ medical information, and called for the establishment of a system of electronic medical record keeping. Health Information Management departments in hospitals and clinics have responded admirably and almost all medical records are kept in electronic format now.
15. EpiChart EMR 6.0 is one such system of medical record keeping, developed by the Polaris Medical Management Group begun by a group of primary care physicians located on the east coast. This is a system designed to handle electronic health records (EHR) rather than electronic medical records (EMR). It is in full compliance with the HIPPA regulations and more recent Federal regulations, and allows the electronic saving and sharing of patients’ medical records in a confidential manner. If you are a physicians’ group, a clinic, or a hospital, EPIChart EMR 6.0 is well worth looking into.
While this is by no means a complete list of medical breakthroughs in 2013, it does illustrate that medicine is moving ahead by leaps and bounds, and that our medical care in the future will be very different from our medical care in the past.