Medical devices that use ultrasound to treat conditions like cervical cancer and endometriosis are the next big thing, and while some experts worry about the future of health care, a growing number of doctors are beginning to worry about them.
“It’s a little bit like the birth control pill,” said Dr. Elizabeth M. Schreiber, director of the New York University Center for Biomedical Imaging.
“We don’t really know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
There are many reasons why doctors are worried about these new devices.
For one thing, they may not be as accurate as they were in the past, according to a study published in the journal ACS’ journal of biomedical engineering.
For another, the technology could lead to the development of new drugs that are less effective or safer than existing treatments.
“When we get to the point where we’re doing a whole new treatment, that can create a whole different set of issues,” said Andrew J. Fincher, a professor of surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and one of the researchers who conducted the study.
“This is the first time in my career I’ve ever seen a device be able to do that.”
Fincheber said the study, which involved hundreds of patients and more than a dozen different types of implants, shows that while the implants were “much more accurate” than before, they were also more complicated to use.
That is because the devices had to be connected to the patient’s body via a specially designed, non-invasive implant, which can’t be worn over a patient’s skin.
Finch said that the implants “didn’t always get what we were hoping for.”
“What we really hoped for was to be able, by doing the implant on the patient, to get better accuracy, to be more precise, to see the whole body in all of its complexity,” he said.
Some of the problems were already well-known to the medical community, but some researchers weren’t ready to accept that it was just a matter of time until we could have implants that were more precise.
“That’s not a very good sign for the future,” said Michael J. Bresnahan, a biomedical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the study and whose research focuses on tissue engineering.
“The idea that you can’t get better precision with implants that have different levels of precision, and that is a fundamental issue, is really going to have to change in the near future.”
Bresnsahan said the device manufacturers are working to improve the accuracy of the devices, but the main problem is that “there’s not really a good solution” for patients who don’t have good access to a clinic.
A new type of device, called a robotic laparoscopy, uses the body’s own signals to deliver ultrasound.
Finches said the new devices may help in some cases, but they also could increase the risk of the device being misused.
The device, which is expected to be used in about one out of every two women in the U.S. by 2020, can detect the presence of cervical cancer using a laser and can detect endometrial cancer using ultrasound.
If that ultrasound can be delivered in a way that is accurate enough to detect the cancer, that may make it a much safer and less invasive option for women with cervical cancer, Finchey said.
It’s a question that has been debated for decades, but until recently, it was largely a medical concern.
Balsnahan said that even though the devices are less precise than they were before, there is still a risk that the implant might fail to get the right result.
“If it fails, the patient will probably not benefit,” he told Reuters Health.
“So I don’t think we should rush into this.”
Finch agreed that the devices could still be a promising option for some women.
“I think it’s going to be much more accurate, and I think it will be much safer, and it will get the results that they want and they need,” he added.
But some doctors are skeptical of the new technologies.
“At this point, there’s no question that the technology is still not perfect, and there are a number of issues with it,” said Richard J. Zimring, a surgeon and chief executive of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“But there’s a lot of people in this field who are not taking it seriously, and so they’re not going to take it seriously,” he continued.
Zobring said the issue of accuracy with the implants was also a concern for patients.
“What the doctors have said is, ‘We’re going to do everything we can to get it right,'” he said, adding that there were some complications that might cause the devices to fail.
“For some of these patients,