The modern age of medicine is improving lifestyles
3D, stem cells, robotics, biomedical engineering, and virtual reality may sound like future tech, but these advances are helping women lead healthier, more comfortable lives as we speak. New devices, screenings, and treatments have taken modern medicine to the next level of care.
Chances are you’ve heard of 3D mammography, though not all insurance covers it. However, a better understanding of how this technology works and its possible benefits may convince you to pay the out-of-pocket expense of roughly $100—or even less, depending on your coverage. Wilma Larsen, MD, of Baylor Scott & White Health in Temple, explains how 3D mammography is different than a traditional screening. “Radiologists can examine the tissue one thin layer at a time, in a sense traveling through the structure of the breast like flipping pages of a book. Fine details are more visible and are less likely to be hidden by overlapping tissue,” states Dr. Larsen, who is Assistant Chair for the Department of OB-GYN and Fellowship Director for Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery.
Dr. Larsen—who is also a Diplomate with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology—adds that 3D mammography improves the early detection of breast cancer and provides patients peace of mind due to greater clarity. “This increased accuracy reduces the number of call-backs by as much as 30 percent, sparing women the anxiety, inconvenience, and expense of coming back for further imaging,” she explains.
According to Carolina Praderio, Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the FDA decided in 2013 that low-dose 3D mammography was accurate enough to be used by itself, without also using 2D technology. “3D mammography can find hidden abnormalities not detected by other screenings,” Dr. Paderio, of Gynecology and Women’s Health in Corpus Christi, states.
Women’s lifestyles are also improving, thanks to new devices on the market. One example is the Poise Impressa, which helps women with urinary incontinence. The over-the-counter product is used similarly to a tampon, and gently lifts and supports the urethra to prevent urine from leaking. Botox muscle relaxant for the bladder and InterStim neuromodulation are new technologies that can also help with overactive bladder. InterStim therapy consists of a small device being surgically implanted to send mild electrical currents to the nerves that control the bladder so that this organ works as it should. Patients have a hand-held programmer that allows them to adjust the stimulation’s strength. Another recent therapy includes oral beta-3 agonist administration which aids in urinary bladder relaxation.
More than likely you’ve heard about stem cell research. The mother cells have the ability to multiply and can potentially develop into any cell type in the body. According to Dr. Praderio, recent findings show that stem cells can provide new medical treatment for women suffering from sexual arousal disorders by increasing blood flow. Dr. Praderio adds that just this year a company filed for a patent for the use of regenerative cells as a treatment option for women who experience sexual desire but have difficulty reaching the arousal stage.
There are various companies looking at ways that cell technology can help keep women healthy. One example is the area of pelvic organ prolapse, where the bladder drops from its normal position and pushes against the vagina walls. Muscles that hold pelvic organs in place may get weak from childbirth or surgery and lead to this condition. Dr. Larsen states that many researchers are looking at specific genes which may have an impact. If scientists are able to isolate genes that are critical in the process, prolapse may be able to be prevented. So women may soon be benefitting from more stem cell treatments that appear to be on the horizon.
There’s an app for that?
When it comes to smartphone technology for health, there are several apps to choose from, and it looks like women are taking the lead. “According to a study done by the International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications, 56 percent of women own a smartphone compared to 51 percent of men. This data is also relevant when it comes to using health apps, with around nine percent of women more likely to use these applications compared with four percent of men,” Dr. Praderio says. She adds that new applications range from weight loss and exercise apps to menstrual cycle trackers and pregnancy related apps.
Readers are encouraged to consult their physicians with any questions or concerns.