Researchers Test Tele-Ultrasound Exam

In a pair of studies published in the August issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging, researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami investigated the potential use of tele-ultrasound to examine and diagnose patients around the world.

In the first study, Partho P. Sengupta, MD, director of cardiac ultrasound research at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and chair of the American Society of Echocardiography technology task force, and researchers tested the use of a small, lightweight robotic arm with built-in ultrasound technology that was stationed in Boston and connected to a personal computer with a low-bandwidth Internet connection in Munich, Germany. The robotic ultrasound exam of a patient’s carotid artery in his or her neck was completed in just four minutes. Additionally, the study showed that both advanced experts and early trainees on robotic ultrasound were able to operate the telerobotic technology.

“This feasibility and time efficiency of long-distance, telerobotic ultrasound may help expand the role of imagers to care for patients online virtually lending a true helping hand remotely and providing a patient’s care team with expert guidance,” Sengupta says.

In the second study, Kurt Boman, MD, PhD, of Umeå University in Sweden, and colleagues demonstrated how a cardiologist’s video e-consultation, coupled with a remote robot-assisted echocardiogram test, dramatically reduces the wait time for a diagnosis from nearly four months to less than one month for heart failure patients who live in rural communities far from the hospital.

One-half of the study patients were randomized to receive a remote consultation, while the other half received the standard-of-care referral to the hospital. Remote consultation and the robotic echocardiogram exam were conducted on the same day of a patient’s visit to his or her local primary health care center located more than 100 miles away from the hospital. Study results show the total diagnostic process time was significantly reduced from 114 to 27 days in those patients receiving remote consultation. Also the patients’ wait time until obtaining a specialist consultation was reduced from 86 to 12 days, with 95% of remote consultation patients claiming remote consultation to be a superior strategy.

According to researchers, on-demand, virtual robotic ultrasound could be used in a variety of clinical setting collaborations, including timely in-hospital or emergency room patient imaging studies, community screenings, and in dangerous locations such as war zones.

“The two studies give us a glimpse of what to expect in the near future, a patient-friendly imaging technology at your doorstep,” Narula says.
Source: Mount Sinai Hospital