II. Treatment Devices

Uses for computers as equipment in the treatment of patient disorders quickly sprung up once their speed, functionality and overall flexibility became understood. Complex calculations that had to be checked multiple times in the past for zero-tolerance for error could now be done in a fraction of the time, with little or no worry of error.

1. Uses in Optic Surgery

The field of optics has been around for several centuries, since the understanding that impairment of any sight was generally caused by some sort of refractive problem within the lens of the eye.

The eye in itself is composed of nothing more then a lens for light to pass through and refract (called the cornea), a "sensor" where light is turned into electrical impulses (called the retina), and a nerve to transmit what we "see" to the brain (called the optic nerve). Generally, the main difficulties with sight are from either a misshapen cornea, which fails to focus light properly unto the receiving plate, the retina.

Early treatments included the wearing of lenses, which corrected sight abnormalities, or even physical surgery with the scalpel which could release the tension on the cornea and allow it to form into it's proper shape. Now, with the help of modern science and computers, it's possible to use lasers in surgical procedures to reshape the lens.

The procedure consists of creating a "flap" on the outermost layer of the cornea, and folding it back, allowing the laser to change the refractive index of the old lens by effectively vaporizing the surrounding layers.

This technology would definitely not have been possible had it not been for computers. The laser itself has to be correctly aimed, so as to be the most effective; and of course so as not to cause damage which could be irreparable for the patient. This in itself could be considered a pre-surgical treatment, however it's other use can demonstrates both the versatility of computers and the reliance we have on it.
Even though the patient is lightly sedated underneath the laser, there are bound to be moments when the patient moves -- which under the circumstances of refractive surgery - could be devastating. This new technology enables a computer to effectively track the human eye as it moves, and allows for more precise placement of the laser pulses. As well as providing security for increased accuracy, but the patient's outcome is much more predictable under the circumstances.

Also in this procedure, is the computer-controlled mirror, which helps to correct for certain types of problems encountered in earlier types of laser surgery. As a direct result of such advances, also comes another benefit for the patient - decreased recovery time due to improved corneal healing.

2. Uses in Operative Surgery

Gallstones is a very common ailment among the general population with each year more then 500,000 (1, p3) people have gallbladder surgery. Traditionally, a highly invasive surgical technique has been used, but in today's world a new procedure has emerged.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy (1, p3)is a new procedure which involves the insertion of a small camera which sends a magnified image from inside the body to a video monitor, aiding the surgeon with a more intricate view of what is going on inside the body. Attached to what is known as a laparoscope is a series of small instruments to do the surgery from within the body.

As well, spinal surgeries are becoming much more heavily dependant on computers as the need for precise placement of screws for attaching spinal instruments is becoming more and more important to the success of the patient.

In spinal surgeries, the damage that could be caused from misplacement of screws can lead to damage to both neurological (brain and other neurological systems) and vascular damage (blood vessels). Orientations of screws as well as the depth to which they are placed are variables that need to be constantly re-evaluated as all patients are different.

A new system has been proposed to which maps the patients spine using high-tech computers and CT scans of the spine. Then planning the trajectory of the screw based on the outline of the spine so as to help the surgeon do his/her job with increased accuracy and minimal side effects. (2, p1)

Computers have entered the world of treatments as a radical new way of