Berkeley -- With an innovative concept developed by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, the ubiquitous cell phone could one day be used to make medical imaging accessible to billions of people around the world.
According to the World Health Organization, some three-quarters of the world's population has no access to ultrasounds, X-rays, magnetic resonance images, and other medical imaging technology used for a wide range of applications, from detecting tumors to confirming tuberculosis infections to monitoring developing fetuses.
"Medical imaging is something we take for granted in industrialized countries," said Boris Rubinsky, UC Berkeley professor of bioengineering and mechanical engineering and head of the team that developed this new application for cell phones. "Imaging is considered one of the most important achievements in modern medicine. Diagnosis and treatment of an estimated 20 percent of diseases would benefit from medical imaging, yet this advancement has been out of reach for millions of people in the world because the equipment is too costly to maintain. Our system would make imaging technology inexpensive and accessible for these underserved populations."
This new technique for medical imaging is described in the April 30 issue of the peer-reviewed, open-access journal, Public Library of Science ONE (PLoS ONE).
Rubinsky, who holds a joint appointment as director of the Research Center for Bioengineering in the Service of Humanity and Society at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, worked on this project with Ph.D. student Yair Granot and post-doctoral researcher Antoni Ivorra. Both researchers are in the UC Berkeley Biophysics Graduate Group.
Rubinsky noted that simply donating imaging devices to the world's poorest regions is not a viable, long-term solution. "More than half of the medical equipment in developing countries is left unused or broken because it is too complicated or expensi
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University of California - Berkeley