Duke University and Stanford University doctors and engineers are developing an ultrasound device that can be an equivalent of more expensive 3D imaging with just the addition of a chip that costs US$10.00
Dr. Joshua Broder, MD, who is an associate professor and emergency physician at Duke Health, Durham, North Carolina, USA came up with the idea when he was playing the Nintendo Wii game console with his son.
Observing that the Wii console was able to track the controller accurately, he concluded that the same principle can be done when a similar device can be “slaved” to a hand-held ultrasound probe.
When presented at the American College of Emergency Physicians Research Forum in Washington, D.C., the innovation showed potential in emergency medicine applications.
This device can be used in lieu of the more traditional MRI and CT Scan machines that cost five times than the ultrasound system being used.
The requirement that in order to generate a 3D image, there must be precise and accurate tracking and orientation of the ultrasound probe enables the “modified” probe to stitch hundreds of individual slices of the anatomy thus generating a 3D image.
The next step after a year was for Dr. Joshua Broder to bring his ideas to Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. Together with undergraduate Matt Morgan and instructors and professors in biomedical engineering Carl Herickhoff and Jeremy Dahl both of whom have since moved to Stanford University, the device is still being developed further.
The chip, the size of a fingernail is attached to an ultrasound probe and is connected to a laptop that has been inputted with a developed program for the device. In a matter of seconds, a 3D model is generated.
The device which is a standard ultrasound probe has the chip attached to it and is used in its regular way to generate the 3D image.
The prototypes were created at Duke University’s 3D printing laboratory. The next step is or trials to determine how best to use the device in patient care. Also, development is going further in enabling the device to adapt to other 3D imaging machines.
The device has good potential in generating 3D images where MRI and CT Scan devices are not available such as rural areas and in developing countries.
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