Ultrasounds: From Space to Sports
Reported October 2006
DETRIOT (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- From space to sports, the ultrasound machine is getting around, ultrasound is not just for babies anymore!
Trauma surgeon Scott Dulchavsky, M.D., Ph.D., is not just teaching med students or doctors how to use the new portable ultrasound machine. He's teaching astronauts and athletes!
"Today on our space station, there is no physician, Dr. Dulchavsky, of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, tells Ivanhoe. ”There is, right now, an ultrasound machine."
The astronauts can do the ultrasound to themselves. The image is sent to mission control where doctors can guide them through it. "To say, 'Wait a minute, that image isn't quite right. Could you move the probe, the transducer, an inch towards your head,'" Dr. Dulchavsky says.
The technology doesn't stop in space. It can be used on athletes anywhere, any time! Right now it's used by the Detroit Tigers, Lions and Redwings. Learning how to use a portable ultrasound machine takes about two hours, and Dr. Dulchavsky says anyone can be trained. He first tested it out on maintenance and cleaning crews at his hospital.
"I was in a Starbucks one time when I got that call. I had my portable computer. I guided him through an examination right like that," he says.
Ultrasound uses sound waves that bounce off body parts, producing echoes. A computer translates the echoes into an image showing broken bones, muscle problems, or changes in organs.
Dr. Dulchavsky says, "We're able to see images that rival the quality of CAT scans and MRIs."
The main difference -- cost! MRIs and cat scans cost more than $1 million. Portable ultrasound machines cost $20,000.
"We could take these devices and place them across the country or in ambulances or in community centers," Dr. Dulchavsky says. The next step is the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
National Space and Biomedical Research Institute
American Institute of Physics
for the American Association of Physicists in Medicine
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