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iPhone App Helps Doctors Diagnose Stroke

With a few scrolls and clicks on an iPhone, doctors can now look at 3D brain images and diagnose a stroke. A study from the University of Calgary suggests that doctors using the app are 94 to 100 per cent accurate in diagnosing acute stroke, compared to a traditional medical diagnostic work station. ResolutionMD Mobile delivers advanced visualization of 2D and 3D, CT and MR images directly to a doctor’s cellphone.

In April 2010, the app was approved by Health Canada so Canadian doctors can now legally make a primary diagnosis using the app. The iPhone software technology was developed by Ross Mitchell, a scientist at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) in Calgary. Mitchell partnered with Calgary Scientific Inc. to bring the technology to the marketplace. The first application will be in acute care, like heart attack and stroke, because timing is critical and the patient’s outcome is dependent on how quickly they receive expert stroke care.

The app is better suited as a diagnostic tool when the doctor is outside of the hospital, or if the patient is in a rural setting. Hospitals in rural settings may have a CT scanner, but don’t usually have the expertise needed to find subtleties in a scan and make a proper diagnosis. With this technology, a hospital with a relatively inexpensive sever can send the images to an expert.

“The hospital’s physician can call an expert, who can be half a continent away, in the mall, or on a golf course, who can immediately look at images and make a diagnosis,” Mitchell said. The study was designed by neuroradiologist Mayank Goyal and his team at the HBI. Goyal said the app allows greater dissemination of medical expertise.

“It’s impossible for one physician to know everything,” Goyal said. “This technology allows quick, confidential, safe and expert opinion.” Goyal said there is no chance a doctor could take a patient’s image and send it in an email, as the data does not get stored on the iPhone.

The app’s advanced client-server architecture doesn’t require image data or confidential patient information to be retained on the cellphone. The confidential patient images remain behind hospital firewalls to prevent any patient data from being lost or stolen. Support for both Wi-Fi and 3G allows for delivery of care to remote locations. A server does all the computing work and streams images to display on a smart-phone in real time. Doctors can see and manipulate medical images in seconds. The images can be viewed on an iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone or web-browser.

Goyal said they are able to handle massive imaging data sets of over 800 images on the iPhone, which they can look through and quickly make a decision. Calgary Scientific has licensed the application to many medical imaging companies and over 50,000 hospitals around the world will have access to it in the next 24 months as it’s installed in their networks.

A test version, ResolutionMD Mobile Lite, is available for free download. Lite contains all of the image viewing capability of the full ResolutionMD Mobile product, but with demo servers that contain made-up patient data. Doctors who are interested in the app can purchase it on their own private system. Calgary Scientific is pursuing FDA clearance for ResolutionMD Mobile in the United States. The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

About Silvia Pikal

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