Medical technology has come a long way

Published 12:03 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2007

By By Lowell McGill
This past week the Associated Press and "The Montgomery Advertiser" reported two revolutionary new medical technology procedures for detecting arterial and colon problems, respectively.
In the Associated Press story an "X-ray used on a completely new CT scanner may soon be an option for those who dread the traditional colon exam." It stated the "X-ray version may be available soon." The article went on to say, "potential cancerous growths may be detected as well as the use of the more invasive method." Many balk at the frightful invasive method. "The researchers at University of Wisconsin Medical School reported the results of their study to the New England Journal of Medicine" according to the AP story. The news article went on to indicate that "more details about the traditional colonoscopies vs. the new CT scanner would not be released until the study is published, probably around the end of the year."
Dr. Pervais Malik, a well-known cardiologist, said "their system is the most advanced mode of diagnosing and treating patients with coronary artery disease." Called an iLab Ultrasound Imaging System, located at Montgomery Baptist Medical Center South, the system "allows physicians to see plaque burden on the artery walls as well as inside the artery," according to the "Advertiser."
My personal cardiology group, in a newsletter this past July, also announced their GE VCT Lightspeed 64 slice scanner, which "enables more accurate diagnosis of arterial blockages using unprecedented revolutionary speed."
I don't think this "machine" was available to me for my by artery surgery about 3-4 years ago. The commonly used cauterization was performed to detect my clogged arteries.
According to these sources of information these new methods "apparently" means an easier, non-invasive diagnosis earlier detection of cardiovascular systems and colon examinations
I use these new revolutionary systems as the theme for my column this week because each day I hear of more and more of my friends and others who are suffering from some of these medical illnesses. I believe this gives hope to those who may encounter similar illnesses in the future
Over the years some have had the conventional stints and balloons inserted to prevent arterial collapse and stoppage. This is still commonplace even today. A few years ago a "drug-medicated" stint was introduced. A feature of this stint was the "slow release of medication that prevented vessels from reclogging after procedures opened them."
"The Advertiser" reported "the new iLab machine offers a single ultra-high tech, one-stop shop for catheterization procedure, control measure and playback of results, displayed in a digital format."
My cardiology group states the use of their device is covered by most insurance companies. A consultation with your local doctor could probably provide answers about insurance and additional information on these two "machines."
Another common test for men is the Prostate Specific Antigen method. This is better known as the PSA test. All doctors recommend men over the age of 40 have this test included in their annual checkups. It is nothing more than drawing blood and getting a "reading of your PSA level. Five years ago this test, and the grace of God, probably saved my life. I was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer. The PSA test reflected elevated readings followed by a biopsy, which indicated the small growth. Brachytherapy (radiated seed implants) lowered my PSA to a fractional low level, which "killed" the cancer growth. Other means of treatment include crotherapy, which freezes the growth and, of course, the conventional surgery. For some reason Crotherapy has become a popular method in south Florida, according to Internet reports.
I have several Web sites "bookmarked" on new medical products and innovations. I refer to these sites often in an effort to keep up with progress in these medical areas. I will be reporting any significant findings as they warrant. I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to "load your doctor down" with health questions when you visit his office. I have learned to tell my cardiologist to "slow down and give me the necessary time" when he first steps in his office with me. I am entitled to that service from him. He has now grown to learn of my "inquisitive nature." As a result I receive the answers and "fruit of his excellent service." I read somewhere that patients are afraid to talk to their doctor. I say this is the time when you need to open and fill him with questions about your particular health problem. Write down your questions before you make the visit to his (or her) office.
Our local hospital can also provide you with updated news on these and possibly other innovated new discoveries and methods to diagnose and treat your medical problems.
Be sure to know what you and your insurance company are being charged. On a few occasions I have found errors on bills received from doctors and hospitals. I, having insurance adjusting experience, (non medical) immediately get in touch with the insurance department of the doctor or the hospital asking for explanations on exactly what these "unclear" items are and why they are included on my statement. I study my Medicare booklet and refer to online Medicare Web sites to make sure I am aware of questioned charges. I sometimes ask why certain items on my bill appear "too high" in costs. Usually I get the satisfaction of learning from my inquiries.
But don't let that last paragraph lead you to think I am not grateful to all those gifted doctors and highly trained hospital professionals. I value what they have done for me over the years and I will always hold them in the very highest regards.
Those interested in learning of good, informative Web sites can email me and I will pass them along to you. Also, those on Medicare should read and study your annual booklet. You will find extremely helpful information in these booklets that can be of valuable service to you.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox