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Monday 28th May 2018

Medical imaging by mobile phone

20th May 2008

Poorer countries suffer from a lack of resources which would enable them to make ready use of medical imaging technology, so an Israeli-led team of researchers has come up with an imaging system which uses mobile phones to transmit patient data.


The new system could pave the way for cheaper and more accessible imaging technology in developing countries.

The research team, led by Boris Rubinsky at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the new concept in medical imaging is centered on cellular phone technology, and is designed to replace the conventional stand-alone medical imaging device with a new medical imaging system made of two independent components connected through cellular phone technology.

Three quarters of the world's population lacks access to medical imaging, and such access is frequently hampered by lack of equipment maintenance and trained personnel to operate it.

The independent units tested by the team and reported in the online open access journal PLoS One centred around a data acquisition device to be used by the healthcare professional operating in the field, to capture an image from the patient.

The device has limited controls and no image display capability. Instead, it used cellphone technology to transmit an image back to a central site, where it would be reconstructed on a computer ready for analysis.

The process differs from current telemedicine in which more technical know-how is required to operate an imaging device in the field.

The system tested in the study was used to image through a cellular phone a simulation of breast cancer tumors in a medical imaging diagnostic mode. They successfully produced a clear image of a simulated breast cancer tumour.

Rubinsky said that the wide availability of cellular phones had made it clear that imaging devices do not have to be all in one location, but could instead be spread around the world and connected through cellphones.

Physicians using the system would be able to access it by plugging the data collection device into their own mobile phones, which would then transmit the raw data back to base for imaging, in much the same way that people now send pictures between cellphones.

Rubinsky said the simplicity of the data collection device meant it was less expensive and easier to maintain than most medical imaging equipment.

The team plans a more advanced prototype for the detection of breast cancer within a year.


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