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The Importance of Electronics in Modern Medicine

The medical sector has become increasingly advanced over the years, with state-of-the-art electronics and related technology playing a vital role in the continued evolution of both medicine and equipment. The electronics revolution has touched almost every process that is a part of modern medicine.

Printed circuit boards are critical in modern medicine and healthcare because innovation has advanced research, diagnostics and treatment strategies – this gives them plenty of work to do, as they are used in many different fields. The role that PCBs play in modern healthcare is huge and it’s getting bigger.

Pacemaker

© Birgit Reitz-Hofmann / Shutterstock.com

From the 1980s onwards, small surface-mount parts have been increasingly used instead of through-hole components, leading to smaller boards with greater functionality and lower production costs. The use of multi-layer circuit boards in the 1990s further reduced their size.

Both flexible and rigid PCBs were soon incorporated into different devices. Manufacturers began using new technology to produce HDI PCBs, allowing for a denser design and much smaller components. As a result, their functionality and reliability were greatly improved and the HDI technology was invaluable in computers and mobile devices, as well as in medical equipment.

 

What are PCBs used for in medicine?

Medical PCBs are used for heart-related applications, including pacemakers and EMG activity systems, in the cardiovascular field. They are also used in medical imaging applications, such as MRIs and CT scans.

Healthcare professionals rely on the information provided by these advanced imaging techniques to guide their treatments.

The PCB is a vital component of the implantable medical device. Applications include cochlear implants that enable hearing-impaired people to process sounds and hear – sometimes for the first time in their life.

People who are at a higher risk of cardiac problems from sudden trauma are helped by implanted defibrillators, while the responsive neurostimulator is an implanted device on the brain to help people with epilepsy. Aimed at patients who don’t respond well to medication to control seizures, it monitors brain activity 24/7 and will alert the wearer when it senses abnormal activity.

PCB technology is found in monitoring devices and gadget including body temperature monitors, blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors, flow rate and dispensing systems, heart monitors, infusion fluid controls and nerve stimulator units.

Along with implantable devices, medical imaging devices and monitoring devices; PCBs are also used in peristaltic infusion technology to deliver fluids to patients and electrical muscle stimulation equipment to contract muscles with the help of an electrical current.

PCBs for the medical sector are carefully designed to meet a broad range of applications. Typically, the specifications are given to the PCB manufacturer by the client, depending on requirements.

 

Assembly process

Surface Mount Technology, or SMT, is often used for the printed circuit boards used in the healthcare sector. It manufactures electric circuits by placing the parts directly on the flat surface of a PCB. A surface-mount device is simply mounted, with no through-holes involved.

Its greatest plus point is that it permits ease of automation. Automating surface mount is much easier than soldering tiny leads through holes and is a more cost-effective procedure as a result. There is less drilling, as fewer holes are required.

Each side of the circuit board can have components attached. The components are much smaller than traditional leaded parts and take up less space.

Technology has changed the face of modern medicine beyond all recognition in recent years. Electronics have become a vital part of the medical industry, which is constantly evolving to deal with the new challenges and demands of the 21st century.

 

Future of PCBs in medical sector

Every branch of healthcare has felt the impact of modern technology. For example, smartphones, iPads and tablets have replaced the use of conventional products that monitor and record data.

In the current situation of the global Covid-19 pandemic, many patients are having to book virtual appointments for routine medical advice. Smartphones have become invaluable for healthcare workers to send and receive medical data and records.

Doctors are increasingly using mobile health services to order supplies such as medication; to document data and tasks; and to research patient queries on the move.

Wearable medical devices are also growing in popularity. The wearables market is growing at a rate of 16.4% per year. By using PCBs, this enables the manufacture of medical devices that can be worn easily without being cumbersome.

State-of-the-art sensors can collect valuable patient data. In addition, a worn medical device could save a person’s life if they have fallen and sustained an injury. It can inform medical professionals of any potential issues.

The use of printed circuit boards in modern medicine looks set to expand further in the future and will continue to make a big difference to service efficiency, patient care and our overall quality of life.

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