Mobisante presents the world’s first FDA-approved smartphone-based ultrasound device
Your EMS disaster team is called in for a mass casualty caused by a building collapse and you are faced with several dozen patients pulled from debris with abdominal tenderness. With only a single Level I trauma center at your disposal you have to start to triage the wounded. A few years ago you would have had to rely on vital signs, external exam, and gestalt. Fortunately, today you brought your MobiUS portable ultrasound machine, the world’s first FDA-approved smarthphone-powered ultrasound device.
Ultrasound has become an increasingly important tool for emergency physicians. Fifteen years ago only academic centers had ultrasound machines in their EDs; today EDs of all sizes can brag about having ultrasound in their departments. Ultrasound image quality has improved dramatically while the size of the machines has steadily decreased. A few years ago, “portable” meant a heavy laptop-sized ultrasound system. Recent improvements have allowed for single-crystal ultrasound devices with reasonable image quality. Even so, typical devices still require some technical expertise to operate as the only way to create an image is by moving or rocking the probe to create two dimensions from the single crystal. Enter the MobiUS, which has stepped in to present a better alternative.
The largest part of the MobiUS is not the screen but the probes themselves which are about the size and shape of a handheld microphone. These are single-crystal probes with a motor that moves the crystal side to side creating two dimensions at 5-8.5 frames per second, depending on depth. The probe has a standard USB connector that also allows it to connect to any computer via USB. For the MobiUS system, the probe connects to a Toshiba TG01 cell phone via a mini-USB adaptor. The MobiUS system includes the TG01 cell phone and your choice of probes including 3.5-5 MHz, 7.5 MHz, and 12 MHz. The former for general use in cardiac and abdominal exams and the latter for vascular or small parts. The TG01 is a Windows 7 phone and is unique in that it’s the only cell phone currently on the market with an independent USB chip on the motherboard (a requirement for the probes to function) and therefore the only cell phone the probes will work with. It is also important to note that due to FDA certification requirements only TG01s bundled with the probes and included software from Mobisante will work with the probes. So, as things currently stand, there is no way to save a few bucks if you already own a Toshiba TG01.
A cold start takes about 45 seconds and drops you off at an intro screen where you can log in anonymously or as a previously created user. The next screen allows you to create or edit a patient or operator. You are also offered tabs at the bottom for exams, review, and settings. Patient files cover standard demographics but also allow you to use the cell phone camera to take patient photos.
Under “Exam” there are tabs for several different settings including “Quick Scan,” which contains generic ultrasound settings, and “Visual Exam” which allows you to take pictures with the phone’s camera. There are also settings for Carotid, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, and Obstetrics.
The “Review” tab allows you to look at previous studies and “Settings” allows setup of email, WiFi, and phone settings.
When under the ultrasound modes the probe records repeating video loops. At any time you can freeze the images via the touch screen and pan forward or backward through the recording. You can then markup the images with text and symbols.
Using the MobiUS will be fairly similar to anyone familiar with ultrasound with a couple of exceptions. First, image quality is excellent, but the frame rate is a little slower than what you are likely used to. To compensate for this, it is helpful to move the probe slowly and deliberately. Second, the probes are round, making left and right movements a little less intuitive than the probes most of us are used to. Proper orientation is quickly established with a couple of taps on the probe with a fingertip. The screen size is large enough to easily see what you are looking for, and while the image quality is not going to rival your latest full-size ultrasound, I found it to be better than expected and perfectly acceptable. In fact, the MobiUS image quality exceeds that which we considered fantastic several years back with our cutting edge 500 lb ultrasound machines.
Up until this point the MobiUS sounds like any other ultrasound, just in a smaller package. But where this system earns its place as a true innovation is in its connectivity. With a few taps of the screen you can share your images via WiFi or cellular network. While high speed internet and land lines are not universal, most developing countries have cellular networks. In fact, many countries we’d consider third world have better cell networks than we do.
Imagine a midwife in a remote village in Zimbabwe doing an ultrasound on a patient with vaginal bleeding or a doctor in a similar setting evaluating a trauma patient. In both cases, sending your ultrasound images to a higher level of care may mean the difference between a long unnecessary transport to the hospital for further evaluation or keeping a potentially unstable patient in your care for too long. Systems like the MobiUS are on the cusp of reinventing the way care is provided in remote settings.
The MobiUS is just now hitting its final production phase and should be available around the time of publication. Single unit price is listed at $7,495 for a phone and single probe.
Go to mobisante.com for more information.