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What is Bioinstrumentation?

By M. Marquardt
Updated May 23, 2024
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Bioinstrumentation is a field of study that centers on creating devices that measure physiological levels, such as blood pressure or brain waves, as well as devices that can help keep a patient alive. Examples of bioinstruments include electric sensors, respirators and ultrasound equipment. Typically, those who work in the field have degrees in biomedical engineering, optics or biology.

Medicine has always relied on the most advanced technologies of the day. Those technologies can range from simple heart monitors to artificial organs. The need for better, more accurate devices has seen the study of bioinstrumentation boom, with colleges and universities now offering graduate degrees in the field. In the United States, the National Institute of Health also has a lab devoted to the development of biosensors and bioinstruments.

One of the biggest subfields of bioinstrumentation is biomedical optics. This field includes developing ways to perform noninvasive surgeries that do not require a patient to be cut with surgical instruments. For example, the development of laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) eye surgery is one of the most commonly known advances in laser microsurgery. LASIK allows doctors to correct a wide-range of eye problems, including myopia and astigmatisms. Biomedical optics also encompasses the creation of more advanced imaging machinery, such as computed axial tomography (CAT) scanning devices and microscopes.

Another main field of bioinstrumentation is the creation of sensors. These devices are designed to watch different aspects of physiology, such as temperature, the speed of blood flow and the electrical activity in the brain. One specific sensor is an electromyography, which measures the electrical activity in muscles. If electric feedback from an electromyography sensor deviates from normal levels, it could indicate medical issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, myopathy or muscular dystrophy.

Bioinstruments also can be used to measure specific biomarkers in the body. Blood sensors can identify levels of carbon dioxide, electrolytes and glucose, among other chemicals. They also can be employed to measure the potenz hydrogen (pH) of blood, alerting doctors if the blood becomes too alkaline or too acidic, which can cause adverse complications, especially to bones. There are other instruments that can be used for testing genetic testing.

Other forms of bioinstruments include pumps used for the delivery of drugs, such as insulin or anesthesia. The list also includes defibrillators, ultrasound technology and respirators. Bioinstrumentation also creates machines to aid in boosting physiological systems, such as pacemakers and hearing aids.

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