History of the defibrillator
Cardiac sciences were revolutionarily advanced with the invention of the defibrillator in the 1940s. The function of the defibrillator is to shock a patient's heart when it has gone into cardiac arrest. When successful, defibrillation brings the heart rhythm back to normal.
* The term defibrillation was first used by J. L. Provost and F. Batelli. They showed that the heart could continue to beat at its normal rhythm after cardiac arrest, by applying a high voltage of electricity.
* In 1849, although he didn't design an actual defibrillator, Carl Ludwig found that electrical stimulation was how the heart works. So, although he cannot be classed as the inventor of the defibrillator, his findings certainly started the pathway to its invention.
* The first actual defibrillator machine was invented by Claude S. Beck in 1947. He was a cardiologist at the University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. He was the first cardiologist to save a human's life with defibrillation.
* The first defibrillator created by Beck was a cumbersome wooden box, and nothing like the last generation defibrillator of today, which can be highly portable and easy to use, with the LCD screen, and automatic ECG monitoring.
• Beck's machine did have the paddles that applied the electricity to the patient's chest, as are seen in hospitals today. Smaller portable defibrillators today have defibrillation pads that are much smaller.
A predecessor to the x-ray machine that we are familiar with today was the x-ray outfit machine. This was a wooden cabinet with electric dials and protrusions out the top, for producing x-ray images.
* Wilhelm Rontgen, a German physics professor, accidentally discovered x-rays when he was examining Crookes tubes in November 1895. These tubes were used to study electrons. They were discharge tubes filled with gas. He had wrapped one of the tubes in black cardboard and he noticed some light passing through and shining on the wall. His investigations showed him that these rays passed through paper, books, and eventually his wife's hand (which was the first x-ray image of a human limb). Rontgen called the ray an 'x'-ray because the radiation was an unknown type.
* In 1896 Thomas Edison developed a fluoroscope, after investigating materials' ability to fluoresce after their exposition to x-rays. His fluoroscope became the standard machine for x-ray examinations. Edison actually gave up x-ray research in 1903.
* In England in 1896, Russell Reynolds, who was still at school in Winchester, made an x-ray set, after hearing of Rontgen's discovery. This is considered to be one of the oldest in the world. It can be seen at the London Science Museum.
* Up until 1920 the first machines used Crookes tubes, but they were unreliable because the tubes would gradually absorb the gas during the x-ray process. John Ambrose Fleming invented a vacuum tube - the thermionic diode valve - in 1904. A hot cathode allowed current to flow through the vacuum. This idea was applied to x-ray tubes, which became known as Coolidge tubes and replaced the Crookes tubes. This type of tube is still in use today.
The x-ray machine is considered one of, if not, the most important discovery and invention in medical technological history.
From these examples, it can be seen how medical technological discovery and invention is ongoing and necessary. Over the years there have been many scientists, inventors, doctors and researchers who created inventions to help in the advance of techniques and healthcare. Some of them are well known to us, as well as our modern-day versions of their devices and processes, but others have not obtained acceptance or validation for their inventions and discoveries. This may have been due to monetary, medical or governmental restraints and so on, but thanks to these people and the inventors of the future our medical technology can only continue to progress to great and 'beneficial to mankind' heights.