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Telehealth Ultrasound Imaging

The inventors demonstrate their device.

A diagnostic method which traditionally requires a hospital visit, seems to be on its way out into en situ care. Thanks to IT engineers from Washington University in St. Louis, US, a transportable ultrasound imager small enough to fit in the hand, has come into being.

The device connects to any smartphone, to become a mobile diagnosis centre. The phone serves as both an initial point of scan computer system providing the computational muscle, and data communication link with the hospital's facilities. The smartphone screen displays the scan in real-time, but its not really large enough to display the detail necessary.

This is where the link comes in. The phone can connect with the nearest available specialist at a hospital, or even in an ambulance, where the space is available for a larger display system. In this manner, whilst the ultrasound probe can travel into any patient home or right onto the scene of an accident, the specialist does not have to.

William D. Richard, Ph.D., WUSTL associate professor of computer science and engineering, and David Zar, research associate in computer science and engineering, have made smartphone-compatible USB ultrasound probes for imaging the kidney, liver, bladder and eyes, endocavity probes for prostate and uterine screenings and biopsies, and vascular probes for imaging veins and arteries. None of the probes are any larger than a handheld unit, and all could easily be stored in a nurse or doctor's car.

"You can carry around a probe and cell phone and image on the fly now," said Richard. "Imagine having these smartphones in ambulances and emergency rooms."

"Twenty-first century medicine is defined by medical imaging," said Zar. "Yet 70 percent of the world's population has no access to medical imaging. It's hard to take an MRI or CT scanner to a rural community without power."


Ultrasound imaging now possible with a smartphone

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