There is evidence that humans have been using medical technologies since prehistoric times; primitive tools to perform trepanning have been found at Neolithic excavation sites. The Greeks and Romans went on to develop many medical technologies which may still seem familiar today, including scalpels, dilators and tweezers. In the Middle Ages, the Andalusian Arab physician Abulcasis described around 2000 surgical instruments he had used.
The advent of ‘modern’ medical technology was arguably in the mid-19th century, with the invention of the ophthalmoscope, laryngoscope and a little later the x-ray machine. By the mid 20th century, the first implantable cardiac pacemaker had been developed.
Since then, developments have continued at a considerable pace; there are now in excess of 500,000 different medical devices available. Medical technology can now provide solutions to complex medical challenges that would have seemed insurmountable only decades before. Even now, there is no sign of the rate of innovation slowing down; the development of advanced computing and engineering continues to push the boundaries of what medical technology can achieve.