May 23, 2006
Remote Diagnostic Imaging – Henry Ford Health Services
Henry Ford Health Services is at the leading edge of remote diagnostic research, pioneering programs such as remote-guided ultrasound diagnosis of the health of astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS.) In its recent work with astronauts on ISS, however, the center quickly ran up against image quality and bandwidth challenges that made meaningful medical diagnosis difficult to impossible in such remote settings. “To get ultrasound images from the space station to Earth, we were convolving the ultrasound signal into an S-video signal, then compressing it to downlink to a diagnostician headquartered in Houston,” explains Jack Butler, IT program manager in the Department of Surgery at Henry Ford. In fact, that is the very barrier that other attempts at remote medical diagnostics have encountered: it is nearly impossible to obtain diagnostic-quality images due to multiple layers of image degradation that occurs during the capture and transmission of the data, either to storage devices or over networks. What the center needed in its remote-guided ultrasound research was a breakthrough in imaging technology – and it found just that when it found Epiphan Systems
Diagnostic-Quality Image Transmission
“Our vision is that one day we’ll be able to send out a kid on a bike with a portable ultrasound machine to scan the population of an entire village, allowing us to determine exactly who needs to see a doctor. Thanks to Epiphan and GE’s portable ultrasound technology, that vision looks all the more achievable today.”The center recently joined forces with GE, which is providing a number of its portable ultrasound machines – called GE LOGIQ Books – in support of a project being conducted with the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs and Lake Placid. Butler, for his part, was tasked with finding a way to transmit both still and moving ultrasound images from the LOGIQ Books to the diagnosticians. When he showed the research team the video converter equipment that had been used to accomplish a similar goal on the space station, it was generally agreed that it was far too complicated a solution to use on Earth. It was also too cumbersome to pack around with sports teams the hospital is responsible for, and required too much expertise to setup and use. “We didn’t want to have to send a radiologist to the site,” Butler explains. The point was to be able to provide rapid medical diagnosis of sports injuries even when a team of doctors was not onsite. “We wanted to be able to have someone onsite with minimal training to conduct the examination under the guidance of the remote expert back at the hospital, download the images and then let a radiologist do the analysis back home.” “It was very timely to find exactly the tool we needed from Epiphan,” Butler relates. Using Epiphan’s VGA broadcasting solutions, VGA2USB and VGA2WEB, the research team can now conduct realtime remote expert guidance of the ultrasound examination and download and transmit “diagnostic-quality images and video sequences to experts almost as fast. We can now get EXACTLY the same image that you see on the ultrasound machine to an expert at the other end; everyone is just amazed at how good the images look.” Dr. Scott Dulchavsky, Chairman, Department of Surgery at Henry Ford, adds, “While still in these early stages of our research, the Epiphan system has been used by doctors to successfully remotely diagnose injuries to skaters and wrestlers. This is a huge step forward for our research, for GE and for the Olympic sports team.”
Opening Doors to New Applications
Epiphan’s VGA2USB and VGA2WEB products are compact external devices that connect to the USB port on a device such as the GE LOGIQ Book and capture the images that appear on screen.The diagnostic-quality images include muscular-skeletal images (bones and joints), as well as soft tissue scans (organs, blood flow, corneas, etc.). “What we are proving, thanks to Epiphan, is that medical diagnosis CAN be done from these images – there is now no doubt about this,” Butler says. “The images are exactly what a diagnostician needs to see to make diagnosis and recommendations in the heat of battle, during a game, or for astronauts in space.”
Epiphan and Henry Ford Health Services are now working together to expand the applications of the solution. One project currently underway involves archiving the images to an FTP site, allowing physicians to complete detailed analysis of the images. Butler adds, “Epiphan is now developing a way to transparently move those images off the ultrasound device, through the Internet, and to the FTP site where they will be stored.”
That’s an application that was never even considered before. Instead, external thumb drives were used, introducing a time delay and requiring more operator training to accomplish. In fact, Butler says, “There are so many ways to expand this technology and move it forward, now that we have diagnostic-quality images. We’re in a whole different ballpark now. S-video images are not even a consideration for us now – we’re playing a whole new game now.” It brings the center a big step closer to its overriding mandate to apply its research to as broad a population as possible, including in underserved regions. “Our vision is that one day we’ll be able to send out a kid on a bike with a portable ultrasound machine to scan the population of an entire village,” Butler says, “allowing us to determine exactly who needs to see a doctor. Thanks to Epiphan and GE’s portable ultrasound technology, that vision looks all the more achievable today.”
Epiphan Video produces world-class, award-winning audio visual solutions to capture, scale, mix, encode, stream, record and play high resolution video including 4K UHD. Our customers include companies that specialize in live event production, education, healthcare, worship, manufacturing, usability, collaboration, security and transportation.
Epiphan’s field-proven product line includes live video production and video streaming systems, external USB-based video grabbers for capturing video and graphics from DVI, HDMI™, SDI and VGA sources and internal video capture cards. Our products are designed in North America and backed by rock-solid technical support.
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