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Robotic Ultrasound Enables Long-Distance Heart Exams

Dr. Partho Sengupta performs the first long-distance, tele-robotic ultrasound exam between The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. (Photo credit: Mount Sinai.)
Dr. Partho Sengupta performs the first long-distance, tele-robotic ultrasound exam between The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
(Photo credit: Mount Sinai.)

Doctors in New York are currently testing a tele-robotic system that performs ultrasound exams on patients in Chicago, over the Internet. The study, which brings together cardiovascular imaging specialists at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, will investigate whether the telerobotic long-distance exams of the carotid artery in the neck are as efficient as in-person ultrasounds, at identifying particular risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

The system employs a small, robotic arm, ultrasound technology and a personal computer with a standard Internet connection. It can complete a scan of the carotid artery in just 4 minutes.

“Launching long-distance, tele-robotic ultrasound exams between two major hospitals in two large cities is a sign that we may be able to make waves in accelerating access to and cost-effectiveness of this critical heart health imaging diagnostic tool to other cities, small towns, or rural communities in need,” says Partho P. Sengupta, MD, the study’s principal investigator at Mount Sinai and Director of Interventional Echocardiography and Cardiac Ultrasound Research, and Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“Imaging technology is evolving at a rapid pace. If this tele-health breakthrough proves feasible and successful it may open the door for more accessible screening, prevention, and diagnostic capabilities for patients who may be at high-risk for cardiovascular diseases,” says Rami Doukky, MD, MSc the study’s principal investigator at Rush, Professor of Medicine and Radiology at Rush Medical College and the Interim Chief of Cardiology at the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago.

“Our platform brings together remotely controllable robotics, ultrasound, and telepresence to allow an experienced operator located anywhere in the world to perform an ultrasound exam at a distance,” says Jeffrey Soble, MD, Associate Professor of Cardiology at Rush University Medical Center, who is one of the creators of the novel tele-robotic healthcare technology being tested called TRUDI (Tele-Robotic Ultrasound for Distance Imaging), a product of the company TeleHealthRobotics which he co-founded with biomedical engineer Sarah Doherty.

The clinical trial, which will involve 100 patients over the age of 60, builds on a recent collaboration between Mount Sinai and TeleHealthRobotics’ technology that used remote, long-distance robotic-assisted ultrasound imaging internationally.

Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart at Mount Sinai says: “Tele-robotic imaging may be the key ‘helping hand’ we need to accelerate greater local and global healthcare access.”

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