Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Markets In Everything: Ultrasound Smartphones

Looks like smartphones are getting even smarter. We can already access our email, GPS navigate and use a wide range of business document formats, making them an integral part of a business person’s day. Now doctors might soon be packing a smartphone alongside their stethoscopes. Computer engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have combined a smartphone with USB-based ultrasound probe technology to produce a mobile imaging device that fits in the palm.

The development team envisages the smartphones will become essential tools in ambulances and emergency rooms and hopefully prove vital in the developing countries, where there are insufficient trained medical staff. People in remote areas could be trained to gather data with the phones and send the information to a large medical facility where specialists can analyze the image and make a diagnosis. The technology could also provide army medics the means to quickly diagnose wounded soldiers and detect the location of shrapnel wounds.

To make it happen, the team is working at keeping the cost of the device low. A typical, portable ultrasound device can cost as much as USD$30,000, but some USB-based probes sell for less than $2,000. The team is aiming for a price of about $500. There was also a need to keep the device small, which advances in technology have enabled.


6 Comments:

At 4/28/2009 3:45 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

If they made an ultrasound device like this for sale to expectant mothers it would sell faster than hotcakes.

 
At 4/28/2009 6:34 PM, Anonymous Dr. T said...

Any physician who uses such a tiny, low-resolution image for clinical decisions deserves the future malpractice suits. This is a silly gimmick that should be reserved for pet parakeets.

 
At 4/29/2009 6:51 AM, Blogger 1 said...

"Any physician who uses such a tiny, low-resolution image for clinical decisions deserves the future malpractice suits"...

LOL!

Well said Dr. T, well said...

Still I can see uses for this particularly neat little gadget in fields other than medical care...

What I personally thought was interesting about this particular posting by Dr. Perry was the link to Gizmag with cool but seriously expensive toys like this one...

 
At 4/29/2009 1:48 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

1,
That thing blows away the Smart Car. Now I just need to find a job and a house that are on the same river/lake.

 
At 5/07/2009 8:47 AM, OpenID halfmd said...

Maybe not the best for clinical decisions, but it can get you going with a measurement of the gallbladder thickness, aortic diameter, depth of fluid in an abscess, etc...

 
At 7/15/2009 4:19 PM, Anonymous Dr. U said...

For all of you who want to complain about the resolution without looking at actual image on an actual device, phoey on you. It is absolutely a diagnostically useful image for many purposes (I've seen it!) but it not a replacement for a 475,000 unit (which was never the claim). For quick, first-looks or starting an IV/PICC this is absolutely brilliant and at a price point of under $5000 (for a complete system, I suspect) is becoming affordable for doctors, nurses, home health providers, etc. to own and use.

 

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