A press release from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) lays out some recent progress in the development of ultrasound imagery atlases for spaceflight that might have benefits for rural and underserved communities here on Earth.
Dr. Scott A. Dulchavsky, the lead investigator for the NSBRI/NASA study, describes why spaceflight helps remote medicine:
“The ultrasound imagery techniques came from space program constraints of not having a trained radiologist on orbit or having a CAT scan or an MRI available, forcing us to use ultrasound for things in which we would not normally use it,” he said. “Also, time limitations forced us to put some tight brackets around what is absolutely required for training to be able to obtain a high-quality ultrasound image and to make some sense out of the image.”
This research led to the publication of the 2010 ICU Ultrasound Pocket Book and an atlas of “normal” ultrasound images and techniques for acquiring them that can be used by astronauts with minimal training. Dulchavsky and colleagues tested these techniques and the diagnostic accuracy of them by using the custodial personnel in the Henry Ford Hospital. A video on the site shows some of the applications the team has already implemented through the World Interactive Network Focused on Critical UltraSound (WINFOCUS) to train individuals to use ultrasound techniques in under-served regions.
We’ve previously written about what we think the future of ultrasound holds, and work such as this makes us more certain of that future.
As noted in the linked Medgadget story, editor Dan Buckland has just completed a PhD on validation of musculoskeletal ultrasound in remote medical environments. He didn’t work with the team described in the story, but has received grant support from NSBRI in the past to explore similar topics.