Getting an ultrasound scan can be a long process. A process that includes getting to a hospital, and using an expensive machine to examine the body.
However, things seems to be on a gradual movement to an ease, since Butterfly Network, a US based company, unveiled an Ultrasound Scanner that works with iPhones and iPads.
The device, when connected to the smartphone, gives the phone the ability to work as an ultrasound scanner.
CNN reports that Butterfly Network first began rolling out its handheld ultrasound scanners in 2018, and at that time, much of the focus was on providing tools to parts of Africa and Latin America, where access to large and more traditional ultrasound machines was far more restricted.
Two years down the line, the device that was made to help struggling countries access healthcare, is now being used by hospitals to detect symptoms of Coronavirus.
The device works by connecting a handheld ultrasound scanner to an iPhone or iPad, through the lightning port. The device then, collects scanned images for processing, using the TeleGuidance app on the smartphone.
Although, by FDA regulation, a doctor has to be on ground to perform an ultrasound scan, but, due to situations caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the direction has been relaxed.
With this innovation, doctors can now guide patients remotely, through an ultrasound scan session, using the device.
Chief Medical officer of Butterfly Network, Dr John Martin explained that:
“We will be able to bring the expertise of the physician to the patient instead of the other way around. This is critical in these times and extremely valuable for the future transformation of care.”
According to reports, the device has been helping hospitals around the United States scan the lungs of patients for Covid-19, and other respiratory diseases.
This device has also helped to reduce the movement of patients around the hospital, and subsequently, reduced the risk of exposure, by reducing contacts that may have been occasioned by wheeling patients around the hospital complex.
“I don’t need to transport that patient to another area of the hospital for additional imaging, and risk exposure to additional staff and potentially patients along the way,” said Dr Mike Stone, Butterfly Network’s Director of Education.
“The fact that I can bring a handheld ultrasound system that plugs into a phone into a room, do the exam I need, get the information I need, walk out and disinfect a phone and a probe — compared to wheeling in a cart with three different probes on it, doing that same exam, getting that same information, …it’s really night and day,” he continued.
Dr Jagat Narule of Mount Sinai Hospital System in New York noted that:
“The image quality may not be great, but the image quality is there, it can communicate the message that I’m trying to see.”
While Butterfly Network is making an advancement in the portable ultrasound scan technology, other companies like GE and Philips are also working on similar technology that could be used to scan respiratory diseases like Covid-19.