Prof. Yonina Eldar’s lab at the Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering is developing a small, portable, efficient, innovative ultrasound system that transmits scans to the treating physician immediately. With such a system, ultrasound scans can be performed in disaster areas, road accidents, and in developing countries where the medical infrastructure is limited.
Prof. Eldar’s lab has developed an advanced probe that eliminates the need for the large ultrasound devices that we know from clinics and hospitals. The probe acquires only the relevant data, which is transmitted to a remote processing unit or cloud. The resulting image is then transferred to the treating physician’s smartphone or tablet.
Dr. Shai Tejman-Yarden, a cardiologist at Sheba Medical Center, explained that in the case of injuries, “The new device will provide a doctor who is not at the scene with information in real time, enabling them to instruct the paramedic at the scene.”
Ultrasound imaging is non-invasive, does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation, is risk-free and relatively inexpensive. A probe that transmits high-frequency sound waves is placed against the patient’s body, and an image of the organs being scanned is created based on the pattern of the waves reflected back to the probe. The technology is used to assess the condition of a fetus in utero, examine a baby’s brain through the fontanel (the gap between the bones of the skull), diagnose the condition of internal organs, evaluate blood flow, diagnose thyroid and cardiac issues, and detect tumors and infections.
At present, ultrasound examinations are performed at clinics and hospitals using a probe connected to a large, cumbersome and expensive ultrasound scanner. The scan results are collected in the computer and interpreted by a radiologist, who sends the diagnosis to the patient’s doctor. This process takes several days, which could be critical in some cases.
Uploading the scan results to a cloud and enabling the patient’s doctor to view the findings on his mobile device could save time, but until now this has been avoided due to the large quantity of data acquired in each ultrasound scan. In addition, because of the device’s high data acquisition rate, the probe must be connected to it by means of a thick, heavy cable.
Prof. Yonina Eldar’s SAMPL Lab has developed new algorithm enabling the data to be reduced at the initial scanning stage, so that it can be uploaded to a cloud without damaging image quality and without loss of data on the way. Using an innovative probe developed at the lab, the new device eliminates the need for the large ultrasound machines currently being used by most clinics.