iPhone/Skype combo delivers reliable ultrasound images

A new study by more than a half-dozen major universities around the world has confirmed that at least two conditions, apnea and pneumothorax, can be identified remotely using an iPhone with an ultrasound attachment.

The system has a telehealth element, requiring a sonographer on one end to guide an onsite technician through the image capture. The remote specialist then analyzes the images, according to a study published in the Journal of Trauma. IPhones with a handheld ultrasound attachment streamed images over a Skype connection.

The ultrasound can rule out apnea or pneumothorax by allowing sonographers to remotely watch a respiratory motion known as lung sliding. The image quality, in all cases, was fine enough to show a variety of lung motions clearly, researchers said. The study indicates that the technology isn't confined to any single device, though, and can work through "almost any responder over cellular networks."

Patients were examined at remote sites including a small airplane during a flight and a home in Calgary, Canada. Remote specialists were located in Pisa and Rome, Italy, as well as Philadelphia, Penn., and Calgary.

What's next? As part of the experiment, researchers also tested out the ultrasound combo for trauma exams, vascular anatomy and fetal wellness assessments, reporting positive results.

To learn more:
- read the Journal of Trauma study (purchase required) 
- check out the iMedicalApps article