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May 17, 2008

BehindTheMedspeak: Medical Imaging With a Cellphone


Long story short: scientists have developed a relatively inexpensive medical scanner ($1,000 v $70,000 for a conventional ultrasound machine) that can be plugged into a cellphone, which transmits raw scan data to a remote computer processor. The computer converts the data into images which are then sent back to the cellphone for viewing on its screen.

This could bring First World medicine to the Third World and can't happen too soon.

Windsor Genova's May 1, 2008 AllHeadlineNews.com story follows.

    Cell Phone Finds Use As Diagnostic Tool In Areas Without Ultrasound, X-Ray Machines

    A professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues have developed a cheaper way to perform medical imaging using a cellular phone.

    Boris Rubinsky's team has developed a portable medical scanner that can be plugged into a cellular phone, which transmits raw ultrasound or X-ray scanning data to a remote computer processor. The computer then converts the data to images and relays these back for viewing on the cell phone screen.

    The innovative concept, which was described in Wednesday's issue of the journal PLoS ONE, is a cheaper and easier alternative to conventional medical scanning service because one computer server does the imaging for many scanners.

    Traditional ultrasound and X-ray machines are bulky because their components consist of a computer, video monitor and scanner. These are also very expensive; an ultrasound machine costs about $70,000 while a portable scanner will only cost $1,000.

    According to Foxnews.com, Rubinsky said the portable scanners "could open up whole new avenues of health care for the developing world. Health professionals in rural clinics could affordably get the tools they need to properly diagnose and treat their patients."


Here's a link to an interview with Rubinsky.

Here's a link to a video featuring Rubinsky.

Here's the abstract of Rubinsky's paper, published in the April 30, 2008 issue of Public Library of Science ONE.

    A New Concept for Medical Imaging Centered on Cellular Phone Technology

    According to World Health Organization reports, some three quarters of the world population does not have access to medical imaging. In addition, in developing countries over 50% of medical equipment that is available is not being used because it is too sophisticated or in disrepair or because the health personnel are not trained to use it. The goal of this study is to introduce and demonstrate the feasibility of a new concept in medical imaging that is centered on cellular phone technology and which may provide a solution to medical imaging in underserved areas. The new system replaces the conventional stand-alone medical imaging device with a new medical imaging system made of two independent components connected through cellular phone technology. The independent units are: a) a data acquisition device (DAD) at a remote patient site that is simple, with limited controls and no image display capability and b) an advanced image reconstruction and hardware control multiserver unit at a central site. The cellular phone technology transmits unprocessed raw data from the patient site DAD and receives and displays the processed image from the central site. (This is different from conventional telemedicine where the image reconstruction and control is at the patient site and telecommunication is used to transmit processed images from the patient site). The primary goal of this study is to demonstrate that the cellular phone technology can function in the proposed mode. The feasibility of the concept is demonstrated using a new frequency division multiplexing electrical impedance tomography system, which we have developed for dynamic medical imaging, as the medical imaging modality. The system is used to image through a cellular phone a simulation of breast cancer tumors in a medical imaging diagnostic mode and to image minimally invasive tissue ablation with irreversible electroporation in a medical imaging interventional mode.



Here's a link to the full paper for those who can't get enough.

[via Shawn Lea]

May 17, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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