Medicine Machines

Dr Mark Porter investigates the history and importance of five machines which changed the face of modern medicine.


01The Dialysis Machine20010702

The artificial kidney means that people with renal failure have a good chance of survival, but the early machines were cumbersome and largely built by the patients themselves.

02The X-ray Machine20010703

The first x-rays taken may have seemed miraculous, but it was opposed by doctors who had always depended on their eyes and ears for diagnosis, and the machines scared patients.

03The Ecg20010704

The electro-cardiogram has helped diagnose heart disease in millions, but the early versions were heavy, cumbersome and restricted to medics who could afford to have them specially designed.

04The Iron Lung20010705

In the middle of the last century, thousands of patients suffering from respiratory failure could spend years trapped in an iron lung, their entire body encased and only their head visible.

05 LASTThe Fetal Heart Monitor20010706

When the fetal heart monitor was first used, it was seen as a way of preventing babies dying during childbirth, but opposition grew as doctors used it to justify medical intervention during labour.