Technological Advances in Medicine

By SeanR
  • Laughing Gas

    Laughing Gas
    Humphrey Davy discovers the anaesthetic properties of nitrous oxide. However, it is used solely for recreation at the time. It is not used for procedures until many years after Davy's death.
  • Stethoscope

    Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec, a French physician, invents the stethoscope in order to listen to the sounds made by the hearts and lungs of his patients. He found that the diagnoses he made via the stethoscope were consistent with observations made during autopsies.
  • Hypodermic Needle

    Hypodermic Needle
    The hypodermic needle is invented in two different ways by two different people at nearly the same time: Scottish doctor Alexander Wood and French doctor Charles Pravaz.
  • Germs

    Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch propose the germ theory of disease, the basic structure upon which we understand the transmission of disease today.
  • X-ray

    German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen produces X-rays and applies them to medicine. He is the first recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.
  • Aspirin

    Chemists at German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG concoct acetylsalicylic acid, also known as Aspirin. The U.S. patent for this medication will not expire until 1917.
  • Electrocardiograph

    William Einthoven, a Dutch physician, invents the first electrocardograph machine in order to record the heart wave patterns of his patients. He is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in medicine in 1924 for this discovery.
  • Insulin

    Frederick Banting and Charles Best discover insulin, which goes on to become the most instrumental advance in medicine in understanding and treating diabetes.
  • Respirator

    Devised by Harvard medical researcher Philip Drinker, this machine was built with an iron box and two vacuum cleaners. The system engulfed the entire body of the patients for whom it was designed, polio sufferers with chest paralysis, and acted as an iron lung.
  • Penicillin

    Scottish biologist and pharmacologist Alexander Fleming discovers the antibiotic substance penicillin from the mold Penicillium notatum. For this discovery, he is awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945.
  • Artificial Pacemaker

    Artificial Pacemaker
    In order to resuscitate patients whose hearts have stopped, New York cardiologist Albert S. Hyman invents the artificial pacemaker.
  • Dialysis Machine

    Dialysis Machine
    Willem J. Kolff creates the first kidney dialysis machine from wooden drums, cellophane tubing, and laundry tubs. The machine is able to successfully draw blood from his dying patient's body, clean it of impurities, and pump it back in.
  • Chemotherapy

    The development of the process of chemotherapy can be attributed to the research studies of Alfred G. Gilman and Louis S. Goodman in the 1940s regarding G-proteins.
  • Plastic Contact Lenses

    Plastic Contact Lenses
    Kevin Tuohy applies for a patent for newly developed plastic contact lenses that cover only the cornea of the eye.
  • Defibrillator

    American cardiac surgeon Claude Beck performs the first heart defibrillation successfully with the device he designed himself. The patient is in cardiac arrest for about 45 minutes before Beck applies the paddles of his device directly to the patient's heart and revives him.
  • Ultrasound

    Scottish physician Ian Donald pioneers the use of high frequency imaging in medicine and especially for pregnant women after seeing its use in the Glasgow shipyard to expose flaws in metallurgy.
  • Arthroscope

    Invented by the Japanese physician Masaki Watanabe for orthopaedic surgery. It soon becomes one of the most useful tools for treating a variety of joint problems in a relatively noninvasive manner.
  • CT Scan

    CT Scan
    British electrical engineer Godfrey Hounsfield invents the first commercial computed tomography scanner. This form of medical imaging works through taking multiple X-rays of the body from multiple angles, allowing doctors to see the human body in layers.
  • MRI

    Armenian-American doctor Raymond Vahan Damadian invents the first magnetic resonance scanning machine.This allows doctors to utilize magnetic fields to be able to see detailed imagery of internal bodily structures.
  • Laser Eye Surgery

    Laser Eye Surgery
    New York City ophthalmologist Steven Trokel performs the first laser surgery on a human cornea to correct the refractive error myopia.
  • Human Genome Project Completed

    Human Genome Project Completed
    Started in 1990, the goal of the Human Genome Project was to identify all of the 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA. With the completion of the identification of every sequence, the goal of researchers is to now analyze all of the data.
  • Microfluidic Chip

    Microfluidic Chip
    Researchers from Boston University, Harvard, and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center develop a disposable chip the size of a microscope slide that can test for flu faster and cheaper than the traditional RT-PCR test. This can help to prevent lengthy flu diagnostics that often turn out false positives, dramatically reducing deaths in the case of a reoccurance of such a scenario as the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic.
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