10 Changes in Surgery in 25 Years

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Advances in radiology and imaging have allowed medical professionals to more easily pinpoint the causes of symptoms that patients might be experiencing. In the past many of the tests can create a blind spot, says Dr. John Gallin, director for the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. “You hope if a patient has cancer then you’ll get it,” he says. “If it’s not precise you could miss it, and the patient is given incorrect comfort in thinking he or she doesn’t have it.”

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A smart fusion ultrasound system, for instance, combines MRI and ultrasound technology to act as a sort of GPS that helps a urologist check for prostate cancer and improves early detection. The GPS-like needle also plays a role in drug discovery and personalized medicine for more accurate tumor characterization, or biopsy, the NIH Clinical Center says.

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Gallin predicts that interventional radiological technologies, such as coronary artery CT scanning and PET scanning to detect Alzheimer’s disease, will continue to minimize invasive activities in the surgery room. A needle, he says, will be able to “cook” a cancer, abscess or infection after it comes across it. 

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