Bionic eyes, implants to prevent seizures and the world’s first all-oral treatment for Hepatitis C are all among the groundbreaking medical advances that will help to shape healthcare this year.
Doctors and researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have compiled a list of the “game-changing” technologies set to revolutionise health care over the next 12 months.
Here we share a few of these medical miracles:
Routine screenings like colonoscopies can be an expensive and invasive experience for many patients, thanks in part to the costly anaesthesia services that are required. But a new computer-assisted personalised sedation device could prove beneficial when introduced this year. The device works by administering the drug propofol and can be monitored by a non-anaesthesia professional during routine procedures. Health professionals believe the device, which will be slowly introduced in 2014, could cut costs incurred by anaesthesiology services by US$1 billion a year.
All-oral Hepatitis C treatment
While treatment for Hepatitis C has improved in leaps and bounds over the last two decades, many patients have to endure a lengthy treatment regimen that can last up to 48 weeks. The drugs used to treat the disease are also difficult for the body to tolerate. However a new drug called Sofosbuvir could improve the treatment times and response rate by up to 90 per cent or higher. It is also the first all-oral treatment for Hepatitis C that has been shown to produce fewer side effects in patients and could make treating the disease much easier.
While at first this procedure may seem unorthodox the results in clinical trials of human stool transplants have been very promising. Up until now, those suffering from the bacterial infection Clostridium difficile or C.diff have had to resort to one of two antibiotics for treatment. But many patients fail to respond to the drug treatment or become victim to multiple episodes of the infection. Gastroenterologists have found that transplanting healthy faecal matter into a sick person’s colon can restore bacterial balance. The bacteriotherapy was shown to help completely cure sufferers within just 24 hours.
After two decades of research and development, a new technology could help to restore sight to those suffering from inherited eye diseases like Retinitis Pigmentosa. The disease affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and can result in legal blindness by the age of 40. The technology involves surgically implanting a retinal prosthesis that decodes transmissions from a pair of glasses equipped with a video camera. While the wearer – who must also carry a video processing unit – won’t have their vision restored completely, they will be able to sense light and dark, movement, and people and objects.
There are many treatments available for those suffering from epilepsy, but some sufferers are unable to control their seizures at all. While surgery is one option for intractable epilepsy it carries many risks and side effects. This year, a new treatment option earned the unanimous support of a US health advisory panel. It consist of a surgically-implanted device which can dramatically reduce epilepsy seizures. It works by recording electrocortiographic (ECog) patterns in the body via electrodes in the brain. When an oncoming seizure is detected, short electrical pulses are sent out to stop the impending seizure.