Ancient Medical Devices
There’s no universally agreed upon origin location for the world’s very first medical device. However, most historians believe the Neolithic people of Balochistan used dental drills made from flint and bowstrings as early as 7000 BCE. By around 950 BCE, the Egyptians widely used prosthetic medical devices throughout their healthcare procedures, including wooden and leather toe components that can be found in museums today.
The golden age of ancient medical devices most likely occurred between 300 and 500 CE. The Greeks and the Romans each featured healthcare systems ripe with operation instruments, medical tools, and other devices. More advanced medical devices were invented much later in human history, with the inception of the compound microscope occurring in the late 1500s.
By 1734, Yale was the first American college to feature a medical microscope device. From that moment on, American innovation regarding medical devices took off, leading to the iron lung in 1929, the pacemaker in 1950, and medical record digitalization in the 1970s, among many more impressive feats. German, Dutch, and French scientists are also heavily credited with advancing medical devices throughout history.
Medical devices are incredibly durable, and for good reason—they often come in contact with sensitive human body components, such as organs and internal tissues. These devices also spend their lifespans in naturally corrosive environments and generally experience challenging conditions overall.
So, how does healthcare-specific equipment remain functional and safe despite these obstacles? Most medical devices feature protective finishes made from high-tech powder coatings. These shield-like barriers are indelible, corrosion resistant, and temperature resistant to ensure biocompatibility and, most importantly, reliability.
Sci-Fi Medical Devices—In Real Life
Some of our most useful medical devices are directly inspired by pop culture and sci-fi media. For example, the Tricorder eHealth Reader from the Star Trek universe led to the creation of the Scanadu Scout healthcare and data mining disk. The Scanadu provides medical staff with highly accurate patient information in a fast and non-disruptive manner.
A Star Trek device known as the Replicator was the inspiration for the world’s first 3D organ printing machine in 2014. Star Wars, on the other hand, is full of incredible, mostly impractical or impossible healthcare devices. However, the brain-controlled prosthetic limbs found on Darth Vader himself eventually led to the creation of real-world alternatives. These days, patients with missing limbs can utilize highly advanced prosthetics that provide nerve-controlled mobility.
Learning the most interesting facts about medical devices highlights just how important these items are for the health and well-being of society. Next time you interact with a medical device in your daily life, consider all the wild and improbable innovations that led to that very moment and product!