tech

Can Computers Diagnose Melanoma?

With so many advances in technology and computer learning, is it possible that one day computers could replace doctors? Robots already assist in surgeries and 3D bio-printers can create synthetic body parts. But can computers reliably make a medical diagnosis?   Medical researchers in California think so – in a collaboration between Stanford’s Department of Electrical Engineering, the Department of Dermatology and the Department of Pathology, among others, scientists have developed a computer algorithm that can diagnose melanoma from a typical photo of a mole taken by any smartphone.   Image: Source   The researchers programmed a computer learning algorithm called a “convolutional neural network” or “CNN,” by using 129,450 clinical images showing 2,032 different diseases to “teach” the CNN what a specific carcinoma looks like. The authors then put the CNN to the test against 21 board-certified dermatologists in a challenge to accurately diagnose the most common and most deadly skin cancers. The authors of the study report that their method performs with a similar success rate as the board-certified dermatologists when it comes to distinguishing malignant melanoma and keratinocyte carcinoma from benign lesions.   Current apps in the U.S. provide information and education about skin cancer and allow users to save pictures of any skin abnormalities, but do not suggest a diagnosis. However, in countries like Australia, Canada and the U.K, you can already download an app...

Essential Apps for Med Students

Admit it: you’re always on your phone. Instead of spending another hour trying to catch that elusive Pokémon, check out these essential apps for med school students. These apps are specifically designed to help you increase your productivity, stay organized and survive.   Image: Source   Anatomy Apps These anatomy apps will give you quick access to all the anatomy you need and help you learn along the way –   1. Muscle & Bone Anatomy 3D iOS Android With a 3D view of the body, this app can isolate muscle groups by actions with animations and commentary. When you’re ready, use one of the built-in quizzes to put your skills to the test.   Image: Source   2. Radiology 2.0: One Night in the ED iOS In a series of case studies, this app walks you through everything you need to know when reviewing CT scans.   3. 3D Brain iOS Android Study all parts of the brain with zoom and rotation features on 29 interactive structures. Learn how different brain regions function, how they are involved in mental illness and what happens if they’re injured.   Clinical Practice Apps These tools are particularly convenient for clinical practice –   4. EBMcalc Complete iOS Android Perform complicated medical calculations on the go with EBMcalc Complete.   5. Epocrates iOS, Android This comprehensive reference tool covers almost everything and includes...

Medical Advancements To Look Forward To This Year #3: Holograms

3. Holograms in Medical Education Along with the fast-paced growth of technologies and initiatives taking place for the enhanced expertise and patient care of currently practicing physicians in the field, growth is likewise comparable for our up and coming medical students.   Medical education has changed quite significantly over the decades, from a system of apprenticeship to a widely renowned infrastructure of accredited education. However, the invention of 3D holograms and their potential applicability in teaching young physicians-to-be may likely rise as one of the most exciting avenues in existence today. Human anatomy is one of the primary fields that has been investigated for the use of 3D holograms as an added supplement to enhance the understanding and preparation of students.     In addition to carrying out dissections on cadavers in formaldehyde-scented laboratories, students have the opportunity to manipulate and view the human body in various dimensions, from different angles, and in unique planes previously impossible without the hologram interface. Case Western Reserve University Medical School has been one of the biggest proponents of this initiative, hoping to incorporate 3D holograms into their curriculum as early as 2019. And human anatomy is just a starting point!   However, along with every invention comes certain skepticism. While this novel, cutting-edge technology may perhaps prove to be a superior tool over the long-established dissection-based practice, will our next generation of...

3D-Bioprinting Technology Produces Blood Vessels in Monkeys

3d-bioprinting is not a new concept, as we have seen in previous articles on Almost Docs. This fascinating technology has opened up countless possibilities, especially pertaining to the future of medicine. So far, bioprinting has successfully produced medical models, prosthetic parts, heart valves, and even organs. Now, this technology is able to produce something even more intricate: blood vessels.     In 2015, Chinese biotechnology company Revotek released a 3d-bioprinter that fabricates blood vessels using a bio-ink made from stem cells. Just before the close of 2016, Kang Yujian, chief scientist and CEO of Revotek, announced the first successful transplant of bioprinted blood vessels into the abdominal aortas of 30 rhesus monkeys.   As shown in the video below, this technology allows researchers to produce new layers of cells to fuse with the old ones. In just a month, the newly created cells had completely blended in.   Video: Source   All monkeys have survived thus far and the 3d-printed biomaterial has achieved regeneration of the endothelial and muscle cells that compose authentic blood vessels. The success of this experiment could one day have far reaching implications for the nearly two billion patients with cardiovascular disease.   Featured Image:...

Disease Diagnosis Via Breathalyzers?

By Janet Taylor A new instrument has recently been developed to diagnose disease in a non-invasive, cost effective manner. Based on the idea of the breathalyzers used to identify and quantify alcohol consumption, this device would allow for specific programmable disease detection in still healthy individuals. Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are expressed by the body when pathologic processes occur.   By linking the exhalation of these chemicals to specific diseases, physicians will be able to diagnose disease in the early stages based on both presence and quantities exhaled and possibly identify individuals who are at high risk for development of specific diseases.   Figure 1. Schematic representation of the concept and design of the study. It involved collection of breath samples from 1404 subjects in 14 departments in nine clinical centers in five different countries (Israel, France, USA, Latvia, and China). The population included 591 healthy controls and 813 patients diagnosed with one of 17 different diseases: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, gastric cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, idiopathic Parkinson’s, atypical Parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and chronic kidney disease. One breath sample obtained from each subject was analyzed with the artificially intelligent nanoarray for disease diagnosis and classification, and a second was analyzed with GC-MS for exploring its chemical composition....

Hackable Medical Devices

By Colin Son   As we become more and more reliant on active, implanted biotechnology the opportunities for malicious manipulation of such rise. The hacking of medical devices isn’t a new threat. I’ve commented on it, as have publications more prominent than this blog. The issue has taken on enough of intellectual seriousness that it has prompted the creation of a multi-institutional center, the Medical Device Security Center. In 2008 that group published a method of wirelessly accessing information from some models of pacemakers and then injecting active attacks to change the performance of the pacemakers. After publication they presented the same at Defcon.   At the Black Hat Conference last year an independent researcher presented a theoretical method of wirelessly changing the serum glucose readings of an implanted diabetic pump.   An attacker could intercept wireless signals and then broadcast a stronger signal to change the blood-sugar level readout on an insulin pump so that the person wearing the pump would adjust their insulin dosage. If done repeatedly, it could kill a person. Radcliffe suggested scenarios where an attacker could be within a couple hundred feet of a victim, like being on the same airplane or on the same hospital floor, and then launch a wireless attack against the medical device. He added that with a powerful enough antenna, the malicious party could launch an attack from up to a half mile away....

Millennials, Back At It Again: Changing The Healthcare Industry

The term “millennials” is in no shortage these days, referring to the generation reaching young adulthood around the millennium. With just a simple Google search, you can find thousands of articles about millennials, usually involving social media, job hopping, or the “me” generation.   There is no doubt that times are changing and, apparently, millennials have a large part in that shift. Well, I should say technology is the real catalyst for the change and with a rising technology-obsessed generation, several industries are seeing some major impacts. Just a few examples include the food, retail, entertainment, and banking industries. Less human interaction, more transparent sourcing, and a desire for more rapid transactions are just some of the characteristics involved in the shift throughout these industries.   So, why is this relevant for med students? You guessed it. Millennials are changing the healthcare industry too.   Even though many medical students today may even be part of the millennial generation, it is important to know how your industry could be changing around you. Here are some ways that millennials may impact the healthcare industry.   Image: Source   1. Skepticism of Pharmaceutical Industry As pharmaceutical companies become more and more transparent, Americans are becoming more skeptical over the drugs they are promoting. According to a recent SERMO poll, “millennials [are] more likely to challenge doctor recommendations [and] more comfortable discussing healthcare costs.” This generation is less likely...