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Space research gives birth to new ultrasound tools for health care in orbit, on Earth
Date:6/23/2011

HOUSTON (June 23, 2011) The remoteness and resource limitations of spaceflight pose a serious challenge to astronaut health care. One solution is ultrasound.

Scientists with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) have developed tools that expand the use of ultrasound during spaceflight and on Earth, especially in rural and underserved locations. These tools include techniques that streamline training and help remote experts guide non-physician astronauts to perform ultrasound exams. Ultrasound can be used to assess numerous conditions fractured bones, collapsed lungs, kidney stones, organ damage and other ailments in space and on Earth. With an NSBRI grant, they also created a catalog, or atlas, of "space-normal" imagery of the human body, setting the stage for astronauts to provide care without consulting a physician on Earth. This atlas was handed over to NASA earlier this year.

Dr. Scott A. Dulchavsky, the Roy D. McClure Chairman of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, is the principal investigator of these projects and is a member of the NSBRI Smart Medical Systems and Technology Team. "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."

Dulchavsky and colleagues from NSBRI, NASA, Henry Ford and Wyle Integrated Science and Engineering Group began their first ultrasound experiment -- Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity (ADUM) -- by developing exam techniques for use on the International Space Station (ISS). The goal was for ISS crewmembers to collect high-quality ultrasound
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Contact: Brad Thomas
rbthomas@bcm.edu
713-798-7595
National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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