Surgeon uses portable ultrasound for long-distance care

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A trauma surgeon at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit has developed a portable ultrasound machine that can scan body parts and then transmit the images via satellite to medical specialists, according to the Detroit News.

Scott Dulchavsky developed the 10-pound tool which he gives to subjects, and via a video link, guides them on how to roll the wand over various parts of the body to examine broken bones and collapsed lungs.

"You get great images with zero training," Dulchavsky said. "We're pushing the boundaries on what we can do with ultrasound."

Much of Dulchavsky's research takes place in NASA's anti-gravity aircraft, which allows him to probe how the ultrasound machine performs in weightless environments.

His patient roster includes everyone from Olympic athletes to astronauts manning the International Space Station and he has performed ultrasound scans on players of Detroit sports teams, including the Tigers and Red Wings.

Dulchavsky is also testing how the machine performs in high altitudes, for example on Mount Everest.

He envisions his research as having more practical applications. He is currently conducting research in rural Madagascar, where a team of researchers plans to install ultrasound units and train personnel on how to use them to improve prenatal care for pregnant women. In August, he plans to attend the Olympic Summer Games in China to continue investigations on using ultrasound to monitor the health of competing athletes.

"Obviously, whether it's in space or on Mount Everest or on the battlefield, those are the situations in which telemedicine is kind of natural," said Alice Watland, chief operating officer for the Washington, D.C.-based American Telemedicine Association.