U.S. Scientists hope to bring the minimalist approach to medical care with the use of a medical imaging device that fits in the palm of the hand.
William D. Richard, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis associate professor of computer science and engineering, and David Zar, research associate in computer science and engineering, have made commercial USB ultrasound probes compatible with Microsoft Windows mobile-based smartphones.
In order to make commercial USB ultrasound probes work with smartphones, the researchers had to optimize every aspect of probe design and operation, from power consumption and data transfer rate to image formation algorithms.
As a result, it is now possible to build smartphone-compatible USB ultrasound probes for imaging the kidney, liver, bladder and eyes, endocavity probes for prostate and uterine screenings and biopsies, and vascular probes for imaging veins and arteries for starting IVs and central lines.
"You can carry around a probe and cell phone and image on the fly now," said Richard.
"Imagine having these smartphones in ambulances and emergency rooms. On a larger scale, this kind of cell phone is a complete computer that runs Windows. It could become the essential computer of the Developing World, where trained medical personnel are scarce, but most of the population, as much as 90 percent, have access to a cell phone tower," he added.
Zar said: "Twenty-first century medicine is defined by medical imaging. Yet 70 percent of the world's population has no access to medical imaging. It's hard to take an MRI or CT scanner to a rural community without power."