Non-invasive (medical)

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The term non-invasive in medicine has two meanings:

For centuries, physicians have employed many simple non-invasive methods based on physical parameters in order to assess body function in health and disease (physical examination and inspection), such as pulse-taking, the auscultation of heart sounds and lung sounds (using the stethoscope), temperature examination (using thermometers), respiratory examination, peripheral vascular examination, oral examination, abdominal examination, external percussion and palpation, blood pressure measurement (using the sphygmomanometer), change in body volumes (using plethysmograph), audiometry, eye examination and many others.

However, since the discovery of the first modern non-invasive techniques based on physical methods, electrocardiography and x-rays, at the end of the 19th century, medical technology has advanced more and more towards non-invasive methods for diagnosis and therapy, such as:

Diagnostic images

Computed tomography machine. Source: GE

A recent advance is the substitution of invasive medical tests, such as colonoscopy by computer-based 3D reconstructions, such as virtual colonoscopy.

Diagnostic signals

Electrocardiographic tracing

Therapy

File:Linear-accelerator.jpg
Linear accelerator treats tumors non-invasively with focused radiation beams

In some cases, non-invasive methods will not work for the intended purpose, so medical technology has developed minimally-invasive methods, such as hypodermic injection (using the syringe), endoscopy, percutaneous surgery, laparoscopic surgery, coronary catheterization, angioplasty, stereotactic surgery and many others.

The benefits for the patient are self-evident.

See also

References

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