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Mount Sinai, Rush University to Test Telerobotic Ultrasound Exams

April 28, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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A new clinical trial is aiming to find out if a doctor in New York City can effectively perform long-distance, telerobotic ultrasound exams over the Internet on patients in Chicago.

The study is a research collaboration between cardiovascular imaging specialists of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The research team is investigating if remote, long-distance telerobotic ultrasound exams of the carotid artery in the neck could be just as efficient as traditional, in-person manual ultrasound exams to test for signs of carotid intima-media thickness and carotid atherosclerotic plaque, which are risk factors for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, officials say.

The study, enrolling 100 study participants over the age of 60 at Rush, is using a small, robotic arm outfitted with ultrasound technology and connected to a personal computer with a standard Internet connection. The robot is controlled over the Internet by a Mount Sinai cardiovascular specialist with the ability to complete a scan of the carotid artery in just four minutes. In addition, each patient will also receive a manual, in-person ultrasound exam by Rush to compare detection results.

The novel telerobotic healthcare technology being tested is called TRUDI (telerobotic ultrasound for distance imaging), and is produced by the company TeleHealthRobotics. This clinical trial builds upon the recent research collaboration of Mount Sinai and telehealthrobotics’ technology using remote, long-distance robotic-assisted ultrasound imaging internationally.

“Launching long-distance, telerobotic 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,” Dr. Partho P. Sengupta, the study’s principal investigator at Mount Sinai and director of interventional echocardiography and cardiac ultrasound research, said in a news release statement.

“Imaging technology is evolving at a rapid pace. If this telehealth 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,” added Dr. Rami Doukky, the study’s principal investigator at Rush, and professor of medicine and radiology at Rush Medical College.

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