During the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the ultrasound systems' provider, Acuson Corporation, in conjunction with three major telecommunication companies, Cisco Systems, Optivision and Ameritech, organized a live transmission of an ultrasound examination performed at Loyola University Health System (LUHS), located in Maywood, Illinois. The telediagnosis was sent over fibre optic lines to the conference at McCormick Place in Chicago and featured the former American football player and present television sports analyst, Tom Waddle. The live demonstration showed the enormous potential of high-resolution ultrasound technology for the diagnosis of sports injuries, as well as the advanced level of telecommunication equipment to link medical experts all over the country.
Before the 26.000 health care professionals who attended the RSNA meeting, the musculoskeletal structure of Waddle's knee, shoulder, and elbow was displayed while the physicians at LUHS performed the tele-diagnosis via ultrasound imaging. The live examination proved that doctors can apply ultrasound technology to more medical domains than the usual specialities of cardiology and foetal imaging. Soft tissue injuries such as tears and strains, which frequently occur in sports medicine, can be nicely imaged with ultrasound, according to the Australian radiological expert, Ian Cappe.
The ultrasound images were transmitted in real time at a speed of 30 frames per second from an Acuson Sequoia ultrasound system at LUHS by means of Optivision's LiveSystem video networking technology and the asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) DS-3 connection, supplied by Ameritech. Cisco support was delivered to send the images over the Internet to the Acuson booth at McCormick Place. In the same way, physicians at rural clinics are able to remotely view real time ultrasound images, that are transmitted by primary care centres, as well as physicians at sports clinics can exchange visual data with an orthopedic surgeon's office.
In addition to the Tom Waddle telediagnosis case, Acuson, together with its telecommunication partners, also transmitted images of both obstetric and abdominal ultrasound examinations to the RSNA professional public, with use of the Native Tissue Harmonic imaging technology and Microson high-resolution imaging. Acuson's proprietary Microson technique allows to very clearly visualize small anatomical structures such as the individual nerve bundles within the median nerve in the wrist. Second harmonic imaging techniques are used for patients who are difficult to image because of their physical condition or specific body structure.
Both the Microson and Native Tissue Harmonic Imaging methods constitute a breakthrough in the fifty year old history of ultrasound. At present, the ultrasound technology has turned into the second most frequently applied procedure in diagnostic medicine after X-ray. In the very near future, the radiology lab will come to the physician, states Dr. Ian Cappe. Telediagnosis will help the doctor to save time while improving the level of patient care and reducing the costs for both hospital and patient. The ability to view high-resolution ultrasound images over the Internet, in any location, during 24 hours per day will completely change the aspect of medical diagnosis.