Today, medical equipment technology is advancing at increasingly rapid speeds, in large part because of the advent of computer technology just a few decades ago. But despite this, some of the most common and essential pieces of medical machinery still in use today had their origin in pre-computer times. Here are 5 of the top medical machines used in hospitals.
Defibrillators remain the best tools for reviving patients during cardiac arrests. Defibrillators can be found in almost every hospital room today along with the first aid kit. Experiments with defibrillation started in the late 19th century, but it wasn’t until 1947 that a defibrillator was first used to resuscitate a human being: a 14 year old patient of Doctor Claude Beck. Beck used his still-not-properly-tested defibrillator when the 14-year-old’s heart stopped in the middle of open heart surgery.
One of the most essential tools in the operating room, the patient monitor is a large device that records and interprets the vital signs of a patient during medical care or treatment. Thanks to patient monitors, doctors and nurses are sometimes alerted of incoming changes or dangers to the patients state before symptoms of the changes become physically apparent.
It was German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen who accidentally discovered x-rays in 1895 while working on experiments with electron beams. It took many years to get x-rays machines from the large, cumbersome and fatally dangerous things they were at the beginning to the highly useful and very safe instruments they are today. X-ray machines help doctors diagnose illnesses, detect fractured bones, cavities and foreign objects inside the body.
The first EKG (electrocardiogram) machine was built in 1903 by Willem Einthoven. An EKG machine detects any abnormalities in heart functions by detecting the electrical signals created by the movement of the heart’s muscles. Einthoven assigned the letters P, Q, R, S and T to the various kinds of electrical signals of the heart. His system is still used in modern EKG machines.
In a similar fashion as sonar, ultrasound machines map the body’s interior tissue and organs by emitting high-pitched sound waves that bounce off internal body structures to produce a visual image of them. Karl Dussik and Ian Donald are the two most well known pioneers of ultrasound technology. In 192, Dussik used ultrasound to examine the human brain and Donald, in the 50s, used ultrasound for diagnostic purposes.