Real-time imaging

The new system would allow ultrasound scans to be performed in disaster areas and after road accidents in developing countries with limited medical infrastructure.

March 27, 2016 04:30
Doctor and patient

Doctor and patient (illustrative).. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

A tiny and efficient new ultrasound system that transmits scans to patients’ physicians in real time has been developed by Prof. Yonina Eldar and colleagues in her lab at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s electrical engineering faculty in Haifa.

With such a system, ultrasound scans can be performed in disaster areas and after road accidents in developing countries with limited medical infrastructure.

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In addition, the medical team at the site can be given treatment instructions based on the findings.

The lab developed the advanced probe to eliminate the need for the large ultrasound devices common in clinics and hospitals. The device acquires only the relevant data, which is transmitted to a remote processing unit or “cloud.” The resulting image is then transferred to the treating physician’s smartphone (or tablet).

Dr. Shai Tejman-Yarden, a cardiologist at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, explained that in the case of injuries, for example, “the development will provide a doctor who is not at the scene with information in real time, enabling him to instruct the paramedic at the scene. This will also enable remote treatment for patients in developing countries, under the guidance of Israeli doctors.”

Ultrasound imaging is one of the world’s most common medical tests. Its advantages are that it is non-invasive, doesn’t involve exposure to ionizing radiation and is risk-free and relatively inexpensive. Ultrasound is based on high-frequency sound waves that we cannot hear. During the examination, a probe that transmits sound waves is placed against the patient’s body, and an image of the organs being scanned is created based on the pattern of the waves reflected back to the probe.

It is used in a wide variety of important medical tests, such as assessing the condition of the fetus in utero, examining the baby’s brain through the fontanel (the gap between the bones of the skull), diagnosing conditions of the internal organs, evaluating blood flow, diagnosing thyroid problems, cardiac examinations, detecting tumors and infections and more.

At present, ultrasound examinations are performed at clinics and hospitals using a probe connected to a large, cumbersome and expensive ultrasound device. The results of the scan are collected in the computer and interpreted by a radiologist, who sends the diagnosis to the patient’s doctor (generally the family physician). This process takes several days, which could be critical in some cases.

Uploading the scan results to a cloud and enabling the patient’s doctor to view the findings on any connected device could save time, but until now this has been avoided due to the large quantity of data acquired in each ultrasound scan. In addition, because of the device’s high data acquisition rate, the probe must be connected to it by means of a thick, heavy cable.

With the Technion’s new algorithm, the data can be reduced at the initial scanning stage so it can be uploaded to a cloud without harming image quality and without loss of data.

The innovative probe developed at the lab eliminates the need for the large ultrasound devices currently used at most clinics.

PLACENTAL CELL CLINICAL TRIALS The US Food and Drug Administration has for the first time given permission to the Israeli company Pluristem and Hadassah University Medical Center doctors to begin testing an experimental medication made from placental cells on cancer patients whose stem cell therapy to renew their immune system was not successful.

The technology began in the Hadassah lab of Prof.

Raphael Gorodetzky, who is head of the radiobiology and biotechnology lab at Hadassah’s Sharett Institute of Oncology.

Called PLX-R18, the new therapy is based on choice placental cells that two years ago were injected into muscles to prevent fatal radiation damage. Placendal cells released a variety of proteins that cause renewal of the white blood cells after blood cancer patients have been exposed to high doses of radiation and chemotherapy.

The therapy can also improve the enhancement of stemcell absorption and recovery of the immune system.

Gorodetzky said the placental-cell and muscular-injection discovery could be an important breakthrough in lifesaving cellular therapy.

EARLY POVERTY DISRUPTS HUNGEREATING LINK How much you eat when you’re not really hungry may depend on how well off your family was when you were a child, according to new research published in Psychological Science.

“Our research shows that growing up poor promotes eating in the absence of hunger in adulthood, regardless of one’s wealth in adulthood,” said psychologist Sarah Hill of Texas Christian University.

“These findings are important because they suggest that a person’s developmental history may play a key role in their relationship with food and weight management.”

Previous research has established childhood poverty as a risk factor for obesity, but the mechanisms driving this relationship are not completely clear. While a lack of access to healthy foods and safe places to play may help to explain the association, Hill and colleagues wondered whether early experiences might become biologically embedded in ways that shape how individuals regulate energy needs throughout one’s life.

Hill and colleagues recruited 31 undergraduate women to participate in what was purportedly a consumer research study. To rule out the potential effects of obesity and specific medical conditions, only women who with a body mass index of less than 30 and those who did not have food allergies or diabetes were eligible to participate. The students received a bowl of chocolate chip cookies and a bowl of pretzels and were told to sample and rate each product. After completing their ratings, they were told that they were free to eat the leftovers while they waited for the next part of the study to begin.

They then completed a survey in which they were asked to think about their childhood before age 12 and rate their level of agreement with three statements: “My family had enough money for things growing up,” “I grew up in a relatively wealthy neighborhood,” “I felt relatively wealthy compared to others my age.”

After they finished, the researchers calculated how much the participants had eaten based on the food that remained in the two bowls.

Looking at the data for students who reported feeling relatively hungry, the researchers found no observable difference in calories consumed between those who grew up in more impoverished environments and those who grew in relatively abundant environments.

However, childhood environment did seem to make a difference in how much people ate when they weren’t actually hungry: students from relatively impoverished environments ate more of the pretzels and cookies, and more calories overall, than did those who came from wealthier backgrounds.

“We were surprised by the lasting impact that one’s childhood environment plays in guiding food intake in adulthood,” said Hill.

“We were also surprised by the fact that one’s level of wealth in adulthood had almost no impact on patterns of food intake. Our research suggests that people who grew up in relatively impoverished environments may have a harder time controlling food intake and managing their body weight than those who grew

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