Medical Ultrasound is Now Portable And Connected To Smartphone

Medical Ultrasound is Now Portable And Connected To Smartphone

The ultrasound system, a machine that doctors use to take pictures of internal body structures to support a diagnosis, is usually given to patients in the form of a chart.

Today, medical ultrasound has a new innovation – Butterfly iQ – a mini ultrasound technology in the form of a chip that connects to a smartphone, providing better diagnostic imaging with ultrasound.

Butterfly iQ first launched at as new innovation as medical portable ultrasound and successfully gain interest in the medical world.

Smartphone ultrasound scanner – Butterfly iQ

The Butterfly iQ is an in-chip ultrasound that maintains the basic principles of the usual ultrasound system, adding two new innovations. First, this technology replaces the piezoelectric crystals in ordinary ultrasound systems with mini machines that function like tiny drums to generate vibrations.

This allows the use of a wider range of clinical applications, instead of tuning the crystals at the time of manufacture to generate a type of ultrasonic wave for imaging at a specific depth, the Butterfly iQ can be tuned for different clinical applications at any time.

Second, the ultrasound in this chip has an integrated circuit where the mini engine is attached directly to the semiconductor layer containing the amplifier, signal processor and so on. That said, it’s all on a chip – in the Butterfly iQ. It is very different from the usual ultrasound system which uses a cable connecting the crystal to a computer to produce images.

By connecting the Butterfly iQ with the iPhone, users can check the body part they want anywhere and anytime. Users only need to place the Butterfly iQ on the desired body part, then a black and white ultrasound image will appear on the smartphone screen.

The image generated from the chip will be transferred to the Butterfly’s storage, and interpreted by a doctor or to an artificial intelligence (AI) learning software company. (The iQ system combines three transducers in one device, doctors do not need to change transducers to perform images on different parts of the body, this can save time. The images will then be stored on the device).

The ‘self scan’ raises concerns among doctors

The 'self scan' raises concerns among doctors

Butterfly iQ is easy and convenient to use, so that patients can carry out their own scans at home with this portable device in the future. This can speed up therapy for people who tend to ignore their discomfort. The benefits of this device were felt by the American vascular surgeon, John Martin, MD, who managed to identify cancer cells in his neck using Butterfly iQ. So that he can receive therapy earlier; and thus, saved his life.

However, like any technology – this new ‘device’ is a cause for concern among doctors. According to the study, although some doctors in the emergency room use portable ultrasound devices, this device will not be popular with doctors. One reason for its unpopularity is that its inferior image quality is not as good as a conventional ultrasound system.

“Even if the resulting image is better, the problem is improper use. For some patients who find abnormalities in their body while using this device, it will lead to more tests, more worry, and possibly a risk, such as a biopsy, “said Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute. He argued that if this technology was used by the public, “various kinds of problems could arise”. False positive results due to this technology can cause public concern. Furthermore, this problem may not be solved by AI, at least for now.

Doctors also face difficulty in transmitting images to hospital databases for storage, which entails costs for scans. In addition, if this device is used by the public, who do not have the relevant background, they will have difficulty understanding the displayed image. “Even most doctors are not very good at interpreting ultrasounds”, adds Dr. Eric Topol.

“Putting the price issue aside, I hope Butterfly can replace the stethoscope in everyday medical practice. Now we can provide a diagnostic system to prevent the millions of children who are at risk of dying from pneumonia each year and hundreds of thousands of women who are at risk of dying in childbirth, this is just two examples of the impact of this technology, “commented Martin, Butterfly’s chief medical officer. MIMS

You may like this article: What Are The Other Uses Of An Ultrasound Scan.

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