iPhone tool enables inexpensive endoscopic viewing

iPhones can be transformed into mobile viewing systems for endoscopy at a substantial cost benefit, concludes an article in iMedicalApps.

The overall cost of the "Endockscope," a new docking system that optimizes the coupling of the iPhone 4S with modern endoscopes, is $154 compared to $46,623 for a standard high-definition (HD) system, according to a related study on PubMed.gov. 

The objective of the study was to evaluate the ability and feasibility of an iPhone-based mobile endoscopic viewing system. Using the United States Air Force resolution target, the study compared the image resolution (line pairs/mm) of a flexible cystoscope coupled to the Endockscope+iPhone to the Storz HD camera (H3-Z Versatile). Researchers then used the Munsell ColorChecker chart to compare the color resolution with a 0° laparoscope. Twelve expert endoscopists blindly compared and evaluated images from a porcine model using a cystoscope and ureteroscope for both systems. Finally, they also compared the cost (average of two company listed prices) and weight of the two systems.

"Endockscope demonstrated feasibility of coupling endoscopes to a smartphone," states the article. "The lighter and inexpensive Endockscope acquired images of the same resolution and acceptable color resolution. When evaluated by expert endoscopists, the quality of the images overall were equivalent for flexible ureteroscopy and somewhat inferior, but still acceptable for flexible cystoscopy."

The article's authors assert that the results "may have improved given the hardware development available today that includes higher resolution cameras." The article also notes that there have been a number of examples in literature of smartphone adapters for endoscopes, but to date there have been no human trials evaluating the efficacy of this technology. 

In related news, researchers at UCLA and the California NanoSystems Institute have developed a smartphone device that accurately determines albumin (a protein) in urine, according to an article in the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip. Detection of albumin is important because if kidney damage has occurred the protein will leak into a person's bloodstream and will be present in the urine. A patient can take a urine sample and the smartphone attachment images and "automatically analyzes fluorescent assays confined within disposable test tubes for sensitive and specific detection of albumin in urine."

To learn more:
- read the article
- see the study