Researchers at the University of Virginia have designed a stethoscope solution for tele-auscultation. Paediatric cardiologists will use the system to diagnose the heart murmurs of children, who are staying at distant locations. Cardiac specialists already have assessed the telemedicine stethoscope and judged the results to be very positive.
The system is based on the use of ISDN lines for the sound transmission. The team has succeeded in recording the full spectrum of audible sounds from 20 to 20.000 Hz. This achievement outperforms the capacity of every currently existing sound or video capture card. The separately installed ISDN lines enable both the transfer and reception of the Dolby digital sounds.
At the remote site, the assistant puts an E-scope on the child's chest and connects the device to a Cardionics Simulscope. In turn, the Simulscope is being interfaced to a Dolby Digital Encoder, in order to adapt the sounds for remote transmission. The Encoder is being linked to an Adtran ISU 128, which performs the actual transfer of the audio message over a single ISDN line.
The message is being received at the site of the University of Virginia through another ISDN line by means of a second Adtran ISU 128. First, the data is introduced into a Dolby Digital Decoder to turn the information into audible sounds. The decoder connects with the University Cardionics Simulscope.
The final step in the remote auscultation process is made by the doctor. He uses a Cardionics Heartman IR Stethoscope to listen to the decoded sounds. Their excellent quality allows him to form an accurate diagnosis in case the child suffers from heart murmurs, and to decide on appropriate treatment for the little patient.
Technical Manager of the project, Garth Wermter, believes this telemedicine stethoscope to be the first in its kind. You can find all details about the configuration at the Office of Telemedicine Web site of the University of Virginia.