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Remote-controlled scans

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Remote-controlled scans

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At Trousseau University Hospital near Tours in France, Professor Philippe Arbeille has devised a new remote ultrasound scan system that is now being developed within the ARTIS project.

More than a hundred mkilometres away a patient can receive a scan carried out remotely by Professor Arbeille. The remote-controlled system was developed because people living ni remote areas often travelled long distances for ultrasound scans only to find out there was nothing serious wrong with them and they could have been treated without travelling so far. So doctors began to wonder whether they couldn’t conduct the tests by internet, and/or telephone. Using the new equipment, Professor Arbeille does the ultrasound scan using a computer located in his office in Tours from where he can communicate in real-time with the second hospital via satellite link. He uses a robot of the ARTIS system, meaning that on the patient’s side there is a robot carrying an ultrasound scanner which is controlled by the doctor using a joystick in another location. This new robotic scanner means people can be scanned in small isolated hospitals in the countryside and it’s also useful for isolated patients in Africa or Amazonia who have no access to medical investigation. The ARTIS project is supported by the European Space Agency, because the same technology could be used for human spaceflights and space exploration activities. This is especially so when looking at space flights to the moon and further, to Mars for example. (It takes about 500 days to reach Mars, an adventure in itself, from which there is no turning back.) Back on earth, apart from isolated country districts, some work places, such as ships at sea or oil rigs, are also difficult to reach. The ARTIS system could be vitally useful, in spite of the cost of communications. ARTIS also opens the doors to other applications in the field of remote medical support. In the future, this system could be extended to other medical imaging applications. In the meantime, ARTIS is expected to be on the market sometime next year. For more information about the European Space Agency and ARTIS see:

http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Space_for_health/SEMV4P1P0WF_0.html

For more about ARTIS see:

http://www.inria.fr/recherche/equipes/artis.en.html

For more information about ultrasound scans see:

www.medes.fr/home_en/telemedicine/tele_consultation/artis.html