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An indispensable medical tool

An indispensable medical tool

Take a piece of paper and write down all the medical tools you can think of. Now check your list. CAT scan machines? Right! MRIs? No doubt you nailed them too. X-ray machines? Of course.

But, if you don't have engineering software, your list isn't complete.

Check the background of any new medical-device miracle today, and you're probably going to find that the engineering team used CAD, finite element analysis, or another engineering software package.

Here are two cases in point:

At the New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY, a neuroscientist is using mechanical event simulation software from Algor to study how the shape of important eye tissues and the arrangement of light-sensing cells develop. Using the software, he has created a virtual biomechanical model of the development of the fovea, a small region in the center of the retina. The model allows him to see the biomechanics of eye growth in a short time, which is important since normal eye growth takes place over about eight years. Algor's Accupak/VE is the software that's replacing the physical prototype with virtual prototype testing. The result of the work could lead to better treatment of poor vision that comes from improper eye growth.

  • Medstone International Inc. is using another software package, SolidWorks, to develop a new generation of lithotripsy instruments. Those instruments provide noninvasive treatment of kidney stones, and Medstone invented the first shockwave lithotripsy devices. The company is developing a lithotripter unit that will contain 3,000 to 4,000 parts, including a user console with a touch screen and an X-ray machine to help locate kidney stones. Additionally, Medstone engineers are using DesignSpaceTM from ANSYS to perform stress and deflection analysis on components.

The examples go on and on.

Engineering software may not be on the shelves in doctors' offices or in hospital storage rooms. But, it certainly is a tool that helps them do their jobs better. Is there anyone in other industries who thinks it couldn't help them too?

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