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JunniferThiNgo
EgirlEssayContest
01March2014
TheAdvancementofBiomedicalEngineering
Theengineeristhekeyfigureinthematerialprogressoftheworld.Itishisengineeringthat
makesarealityofthepotentialvalueofsciencebytranslatingscientificknowledgeintotools,resources,
energyandlabortobringthemintotheserviceofman.Tomakecontributionsofthiskindtheengineer
requirestheimaginationtovisualizetheneedsofsocietyandtoappreciatewhatispossibleaswellas
thetechnologicalandbroadsocialageunderstandingtobringhisvisiontoreality,saidbySirEric
Ashby.Biomedicalengineeringstartedthousandsofyearsago,eventhoughitwasnotcalled
biomedicalengineeringuntilrecently.Thelatestarchiveofbiomedicalengineering3,000yearold
mummyfoundwithlimbprosthesis.Overtime,biomedicalengineeringhasbecomemoreadvanceand
ourengineershavestartedtothinkofmorewaystohelpthehumanpopulation.Biomedicalengineers
startedoutformingideasthroughaccidentalorunintentionaleventsandhavecontinuedtoexpandon
theirideasuntiltheyveformeduseful,moderndaytechnology.Biomedicalengineershavehelpedmany
physicallyimpairedpatients,aswellastheirfamiliesthroughcreatingtechnologylike:Xraystofind
discrepanciesinthehumanbodies,ultrasoundstodealwithorgandiagnosisandcentrifugationto
separatestemcellsbonemarrows.
Xrays,alsoknownasaformofelectromagneticradiation,acommonlyusedmachinebythe
biomedicalfieldtohelpcreatebetterwaystodiagnoseissues.TheXraymachinewasdiscovered
unintentionallyin1985byaGermanphysicistwhowentbythenameofWilhelmConradRoentgen.
Roentgenhadbeenworkingonanexperimentonelectromagneticradiation.Hewasexamining
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electricalraysandtheirpathsthroughatube,whichwascompletelycoveredbyblackpaper,usingan
inductioncoil.Inthedarkroom,Roentgensexperimenttookplace.Hewasabletoseeafluorescent
materialcoveredscreenilluminated,revealingtheraysinthedark.Thephysicistlatercametothe
conclusionthatmanyobjectscouldbeseenthroughusingtheserays,includinghumanflesh. Withhis
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newdiscovery,physicistRoentgentookapictureofhiswifeshand,showingtheboneswithinherhand
andherweddingring. ThroughrevisionsandexperimentshewasabletocreatethefirstXrayin
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1896.Althoughcreatedover40yearsago,westillcontinuetousehisinvention.UsingtheXray,
doctorsareabletogivepatientsanaccuratediagnosis.DoctorsuseXrayscanstoexamineapatients
bones.Withthesescans,theycanseejointreplacement,fractures,signsofcystsortumorsandany
increaseinbonedensityorvolume.Withthisinformation,theycanlookforanydegenerativebone
afflictionssuchasosteomyelitis,whichisaboneinfectioncausedbybacteria.Oncedoctorsareableto
givetheirpatientsadiagnosis,theyarealsoabletogivetheirpatientsaprescriptiontotreattheir
prognosis.
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AnXrayissimplythewavelengthofspecificelectromagneticwavessimilartothewaylightis
withdifferentwavelengthwhichmakesthembehaveunlikeeachother.Thesewavesareabsorbedby
thebonestissue.Thecalciuminthebonestakesinthemostelectromagneticwavesinthebody,
causingthebonestoappearwhiteontheXrayimaging.Tissueinthebodyabsorbsless
electromagneticwaves,causingittoappeargrey.Oxygentakesintheleast,appearingblackonthe
image. Theelectromagneticwavesgiveoffsmall,nonlethalamountsofradiation.Althoughthe
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"Roentgen'sDiscoveryoftheXray."Roentgen'sDiscoveryoftheXray.TheBritishLibraryBoard,n.d.Web.16
Feb.2014.
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"Xrays."XRays.NASA,27Mar.2007.Web.18Feb.2014.
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"BoneXray:MedlinePlusMedicalEncyclopedia."U.SNationalLibraryofMedicine.U.S.NationalLibraryof
Medicine,3Feb.2014.Web.19Feb.2014.
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"XRays:MedlinePlus."U.SNationalLibraryofMedicine.U.S.NationalLibraryofMedicine,07Feb.2014.Web.19
Feb.2014.
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amountofradiationgivenoffthroughXrayimagingisverylow,pregnantwomenmaybeaskedtowear
aspecialleadapronforthebabyssafetyorberecommendedtoswitchtoadifferenttypeoftest. Ifa
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patientisexposedtotoomuchradiationfromXrays,heorshemaybeatriskofskindamage. The
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MayoClinichasalsostatedthatcelldamagecanoccurbuttheradiationlevelmustbeveryhighforthis
tohappen.Lightheadednessandnauseaisalsoapossiblesideeffectatthecontrastmedium.There
arealsorarecasesofapatientsbloodpressureloweringorhavingheartfailure. TheXrayisonlyone
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ofthemanydevicesthemedicalstaffusetohelptheirpatients.
Manypatientsareunawarethatthemoderndayultrasoundhasmultipleuses.Theultrasound
machinewascreated40yearsagobymultiplescientists.Themanwhostartedthecreationofthe
ultrasoundwasphysiologistLazzaroSpallanzani.Hestudiedtheecholocationthatbatsusedto
communicatewithoneanotherin1794.Hisresearchformedthefundamentalsoftheultrasound.Pierre
andJacquesCurrie,twobrothers,werethenexttohelptheultrasoundmachinescreationin1877.
Theyhaddiscoveredpiezoelectricity,whichishowtheultrasoundisabletoreceiveandreleasesound
waves.Duringthe1920stothe1940s,thefirstultrasoundwascreatedandwasusedtotreatEuropean
soccerteamsthroughphysicaltherapy.Overtime,theinitialultrasoundhasbeenimprovedandrevised
tobecomethemoderndayultrasound.Themoderndayultrasoundhasbeenimprovedgreatlysincethe
firstmodelwascreated.Throughouttime,biomedicalengineerswereabletoupgradetheultrasound,
makingitmoreportableandconvenientandallowingittocapture4Dimages. Ultrasoundsarenotonly
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forphysicaltherapyanymore.Now,doctorsuseultrasoundteststoexaminefetusesandcapture
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"Xray."Definition.MayoClinicStaff,16Feb.2012.Web.19Feb.2014.
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Cross,Carrie."WhatAretheEffectsofXRayRadiationonPeople?"LIVESTRONG.COM.LIVESTRONG.COM,13
Sept.2010.Web.25Feb.2014.
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Nnama,Helen."SideEffectsofXRays."LIVESTRONG.COM.LIVESTRONG.COM,02Sept.2010.Web.25Feb.
2014.
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Tsung,Jim."HistoryofUltrasoundandTechnologicalAdvances."HistoryofUltrasoundandTechnological
Advances(n.d.):n.pag.Web.19Feb.2014.
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imagesoforgansinsidethebody.Doctorsusetheseimagestoseeiftheunborninfantisgrowingatthe
normalpaceinsidethewombandtoseeiftheorgansaredamagedorinflamed. Theultrasoundsends
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outsoundwaveswhichbounceofftheorgansandisreceivedbythemachine.Oncethemachine
receivesthesoundwaves,itpaintsanimageoftheorgansusingthesoundwaves. Althoughitis
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knowntobesafe,scientistshavefoundthattheultrasoundcanraisethetemperatureinsidethebody.
Whenusingtheultrasoundtoseetheprogressofthefetusesinsidethewomb,ariseintemperaturecan
causedefectstooccuraswellasaconsequentialamountofdamagetothecentralnervoussystem.
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Ultrasoundsaregreatwhenitcomestoseeingwhatisinsidethebody,butinordertotestitthatis
whereacentrifugecomesinhandy.
In1883,aSwedishengineernamedCarldeLavallearnedthattomakethecentrifuge,a
machinecreatedtoseparatecombinedmaterialsfromoneanother,workproperly,hewouldhaveto
makesureitdidntspintoofastoritwouldbreakapartbutitwouldntspintosloworitwouldntbe
abletoseparatematerials.Duringthe1920s,TheodorH.E.SvedbergcontinuedLavalsstudies.
SvedbergcollaboratedwithAlfLysholmtocreateacentrifugewithalimitspeedof42,000rpm. The
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centrifugemachinenowplaysakeyrolewhenitcomestorunningbloodtests.Thismachineis
commonlyusedtoseparatethematerialsinsidetakenbloodsamples..Thebloodsamplesareplaced
insideholdersinsidethecentrifuge.Thecentrifugethenspiralsfastenoughtoforcethebloodcellsand
othermaterialtoseparateduetothedifferenceindensity. Thecentrifugeisalsoabletoextractstem
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"Ultrasound:MedlinePlusMedicalEncyclopedia."U.SNationalLibraryofMedicine.U.S.NationalLibraryof
Medicine,03Feb.2014.Web.19Feb.2014.
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"ThyroidUltrasound:MedlinePlusMedicalEncyclopedia."U.SNationalLibraryofMedicine.U.S.NationalLibrary
ofMedicine,03Feb.2014.Web.19Feb.2014.
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Leonard,Cindie."FetalUltrasoundRisks."LIVESTRONG.COM.LIVESTRONG.COM,02May2011.Web.25Feb.
2014.
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Koehler,Christopher."DevelopingtheUltracentrifuge."ChemistryChronicles.N.p.,Feb.2003.Web.25Feb.2014.
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Minder,ElisabethI.,AdrianSchibli,DagmarMahrer,PredragNesic,andKathrinPler."EffectsofDifferent
CentrifugationConditionsonClinicalChemistryandImmunologyTestResults."BMCClinicalPathology.N.p.,10
May2011.Web.19Feb.2014.
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cells.Stemcellshavetheabilitytohelpthehumanbodyinmanyways.Bonemarrowstromalcells
(BMSCs)arecommonlyusedinthemedicalfield.Onceextractedusingthecentrifugeandseparated
fromthecellpopulation,stemcellscanbemixedinwithbiomaterialstohelpbonegrowthandthe
regenerationofdamagedtissue.
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Withoutthetechnologybioengineerscreated,doctorswouldnotbeabletogivetheirpatients
accuratereadingsoftheirinternalproblemsorprescribetreatmentsanddrugstohelpthemcopewith
theirailments.Eventhoughourtechnologyiscurrentlymuchmoreadvancedthanithadbeentobegin
with,bioengineersensurethatourcurrenttechnologywillonlybecomebetterandmoreeffectiveinthe
future.Currently,bioengineersarecreatingmanydevicesforthemedicalstafftouse.Already,
biomedicalengineersareworkingongrowingartificialorgans.Theyhavealreadygrownanartificial
liverandarelearninghowtogrowotherorgans. Biomedicalengineersarealsocreatingartificial
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wombforfemalecancersurvivorswhomaybecomeinfertileafterradiationtherapyandsowomenhave
thechoicetogothroughthestressfulmonthsofpregnancy. Artificialbonemarrowsareevenbeing
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creatednow.Biomedicalengineersarehopingtobeabletocreateartificialbonemarrowsintesttubes.
Noneofthisusefulandneededtechnologywouldbecreatedwithoutbiomedicalengineers.They
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workhardtolearnmoreaboutwhattheycandotohelpothers.
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Florine,EmilyMarie.OptimizingChondrogenicFactorsandProteinDeliveryMethodsforCartilageRepair.Thesis.
MassachusettsInstituteofTechnology,Dept.ofBiologicalEngineering,2012.N.p.:MIT,2012.Print.
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Macrae,Fiona."'Growyourown'OrgansHopeafterScientistsProduceLiverinLabfromStemCells."MailOnline.
AssociatedNewspapers,15June2010.Web.25Feb.2014.
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"TheArtificialWombIsBornAndTheWorldoftheMatrixBegins."BeforeIt'sNews.N.p.,25Oct.2013.Web.25
Feb.2014.
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Moore,NicoleC."BiomedicalResearchersCreateArtificialHumanBoneMarrowinaTestTube."Universityof
MichiganNewsService|BiomedicalResearchersCreateArtificialHumanBoneMarrowinaTestTube.N.p.,23Dec.
2008.Web.25Feb.2014.