23 Apr 2009

Ultrasound imaging smartphone is now possible with

The engineers at Washington University in St. Louis, the minimalist approach to health care and information technology by coupling the ultrasonic probe USB technology with a smartphone, so that a compact platform, mobile computing and medical imaging device that fits in the palm of the hand .

William D. Richard, Ph.D., WUSTL associate professor of computer science and engineering, and David Zar, a research fellow at the Institute for computer science and engineering, have the commercial ultrasonic probes USB compatible with Microsoft Windows Mobile smartphones, thanks a $ 100000 grant Microsoft in 2008. Ultrasonic sensors to deliver the work with USB smartphones researchers optimize every aspect of the probe in the design and operation, energy and data transfer rate for the formation of image algorithms.

Therefore, it is now possible, smartphones compatible with USB Ultrasound probe images of the kidneys, liver, bladder and eyes, the probes endocavity of prostate and cervical cancer screenings and biopsies, and probes for imaging vascular veins and arteries for the formation IVs and central lines. The world of medicine and the use of computers will never be the same.

"You can wear a sensor and a cell phone and the image on the fly now," said Richard.

"Imagine these smartphones in ambulances and emergency rooms. In a larger scale, this type of mobile phone is a computer that runs Windows. It could be the core of the computer in developing countries where trained medical personnel are scarce, but most of the population, less than 90 percent has access to a cellphone tower.

"Twenty-first century medicine, the medical imaging," Zar said. "But 70 percent of the world's population has no access to medical imaging. It is difficult, a MRI scanner, or a rural community without electricity."

The decline in electronics, more than 25 years

Zar said the vision of the new system is to provide people in remote areas of the Third World, based on data with the phone and send them to a central unit for many miles, or half a world from where experts analyze the image and make a diagnosis. Czar, says the phone software and firmware for the probes, Richard came with the probe of low-power electronics design. He started working on the design of the ultrasound system 25 years ago, and that he came from the electronics firm, for the size of a small printed circuit board a tariff of three inches. Typical portable ultrasound system could cost up to $ 30000. Some of the USB-based sensors for sale for under $ 2000 with the objective of price as low as $ 500

Another promising application is for the careers of patients with Duchene muscular dystrophy. A degenerative disease that often strikes boys and takes them to their lives through their late 20s, DMD is a degenerative disease for which there is no cure. The treatment of the slowing its development is a daily dose of steroids. Often, some patients suffer from side effects of steroids, which are related to dose. These side effects are behavioral disorders and weight gain. Researchers now know that physical changes in the muscles, the effectiveness of corticosteroids. Measure these changes in the muscles and can be achieved with ultrasound can allow researchers to optimize the dose of steroid to achieve maximum effectiveness while reducing side effects.

"The idea is that the nurses who otherwise would transport a young person, often a wheelchair, a hospital or a clinic at regular intervals for the test, can be trained to the ultrasound to monitor the condition of the muscles," says czar. "This could be the height of the lowest effective dose for improving the quality of life of patients and the carer and hopefully prolong life. We are very pleased about that application. Carer would be only a minute to scan the data collected at the clinic, and the results back to the caregiver. A group at the WUSTL School of Medicine study of Duchene muscular dystrophy is very interested in our products, and hopes to include them in their research plans. “
Field trials in the Third World

Richard Tsar and about a possible collaboration with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the field of integration of their probe smartphone concept in a series of field tests for medical applications in developing countries.
"We are at the point when it comes to use what we have done with this technology and find as many applications as possible," said Richard.

Such a request may be his way to the army. Physicians could rapidly diagnose the wounded soldiers and the small, mobile and sensor to detect the side of the shrapnel injury to the decision for the transportation of soldiers and the treatment he has the box.
Richard and Zar showed fully functional smartphone USB ultrasound probe at Microsoft Research Tech Fest in February 2009, Tsar and technology at the 2009 World Health Care Congress in Washington, DC, April 14-16.

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