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Outer-space ultrasound technologies land on Earth

New ultrasound technologies originally designed to remotely treat astronauts in flight could prove seriously useful on our own planet's healthcare-starved areas, according to this National Space Biomedical Research release. The accurate and cost-effective technologies include tools allowing distant experts to guide untrained non-physicians to perform ultrasound exams in their stead and send results to Earth for analysis. Researchers have also developed a guide designed for non-physicians for when easy access to experts is unavailable.

Scott Dulchavsky, MD, PhD, the principal investigator of these projects, is working with the World Interactive Network Focused on Critical UltraSound to train members of rural and medically underserved regions on using these ultrasound techniques. These areas include countries like Madagascar, India, and Nicaragua. Dulchavsky comments:

By empowering local personnel to offer affordable, immediate, accurate, portable imaging, we facilitate earlier and more effective diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients on a broader basis and in a more sustainable manner.

The ultrasounds also have potential professional and commercial applications: Medical schools may start training all students, not just surgeons, on ultrasound technology, and the United States Olympic Committee is already using them to get immediate updates on athletes' health and injuries.

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