Main content of this page

Anchor links to the different areas of information in this page:

You are here: MEDICA Portal. Part VII: Microsystems Technology. Blood.

Jack of Medical Trades (Part 2)

Jack of Medical Trades (Part 2)

Part 2: Most important - being tiny

Microsystems technology gets in on nearly every medical field. But what is it actually? In the end, it is only defined by the size, the micrometre scaling – these are dimensions smaller than the diametre of a single hair. Thus, microsystems technology means simply one thing in essence: a catch basin of different techniques that allow the construction of ever tinier elements and systems. Thanks to microfluidics, micromechanics, micro optics and microelectronics, scientists can develop nearly diminishing components. And for medical science, this implies: turn big things into small ones. Devices such as a mass spectrometer that usually require a whole desk to stand on can be shrunk to the size of an iPod to one day diagnose illnesses at the hospital bed by the breath of the patient.

In the form of microfluids, microsystems technology is also integrated in chips. The big aim is to develop chips for diagnostics that uses body fluid to do many diagnoses at once. One day, so it is hoped, the blood of a patient can be scanned continuously all day long to monitor an inflammation. Moreover, the minimal invasive surgery continues to develop thanks to microoptical systems since these are more and more often situated on the tip of endoscopes in the form of tiny probes. In this way, the tubes can be produced thinner and more flexible so that they can more easily advance into the most remote parts of the body.


A chip

Another trend: medical science increasingly builds on is microelectronics. High tech pacemakers or implanted heart defibrillators for instance rescue lives with electricity. Deep brain stimulation helps patients suffering from Parkinson ’s disease to move more coordinated: a chip is implanted under the skin of the chest musculature or at the upper abdomen and navigates impulses that make targeted movements possible via electrodes in the skullcap. Also ambient assisted living needs electrical sensors that enable old and ill people to live at home for a longer time – the sensors control body functions via telemedicine or help keeping the house safe by automatically switching the light on when the patient gets out of the bed at night for instance.

It is the abundance of several applications which delights Thomas Becks:”Microsystems technology features prominently in medical engineering”. Furthermore, the executive director of the German Society of Biomedical Engineering assumes that its influence will even increase. According to a comprehensive study of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research from 2004, medical engineering moves within three dimensions: "computerisation, molecularisation and miniaturisation which means that medical devices are shrinking", says Becks. In all likelihood, the financial crises will not stop this development: ”As the health care market is state-controlled in this country, the German medical engineering market is less influenced”.

- Part 1: Jack of Medical Trades
- Part 2: Most important - being tiny


More informations and functions


for Exhibitors
for Visitors & Press