вт, 07/03/2012

Scanning What Is Happening Inside The Body

Technology is one of the strongest partners of modern medicine. Many operations, cures or prostheses would not be possible without them.

Even in the study of processes inside the body high-performance technology is a huge asset. In the course of a normal investigation the doctor is trying to find out the actual state of the patient. Because of his knowledge and experience, he can usually detect the disease, its causes, its course and its probable future course. During the investigation the doctor 'looks' inside the body. He listens with a stethoscope, he makes x-rays, ultrasound or MRI. Snapshots are relatively easy to manufacture. Motion pictures are a little more complicated, because the patient has to lie quietly during the recordings. Several x-rays in a row are also not safe and for MRI the process takes a long time. Other than that MRI scans are very noisy. Nevertheless, about two years ago a mother in Berlin has agreed to 'film' the birth of her child with an MRI scan. Because of the loud noise that results from an MRI the recording was finished before the baby's head was pushed through the birth canal to protect the child from the noise. The recording can help Doctors to better understand the process of birth in order to better assist with complications.

Scientists have observed another operation in London: the spread of infection in real time and in 3D. What does it look like when an infection takes hold in the body? Where does it spread to and when? When does the immune system kick in and drive off the infection? This was done with a heat vision camera in an animal experiment with mice. The findings of this experiment will give science important tools to develop better vaccines and better antibiotics, which will allow them to tackle bacterial infections in the future better.