IDF develops mobile medical imaging abilities

New mobile medical imaging facilities allow doctors to take X-Rays, CT scans of soldiers near frontline battle positions.

January 30, 2013 05:11
2 minute read.
IDF mobile facilities.

IDF mobile facilities 370. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman)


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The IDF recently acquired mobile medical imaging facilities, allowing doctors to take X-rays, CT scans – and soon, MRI scans – of soldiers near frontline battle positions, and to upload the images to an internal Internet network.

The army has developed the Picture Archival Communications System, allowing a doctor or specialist to remotely access the images from any location, and make a diagnosis, said Lt.-Col. Michel Somekh, commander of the Imaging Wing of the IDF Medical Corps.

In any future conflict, the medical corps can set up a field hospital near the front line, which will include the mobile imaging facilities, Somekh said.

The mobile facilities can run on generators, and are insulated against radioactive particles to protect the sensitive machines.

“We can have them ready to go the moment we receive an order. They can be loaded on to a plane or on a truck,” he said.

For peacetime, the IDF has installed fixed medical imaging systems at nine facilities across the country. The upgraded services include nuclear imaging, a technique based on injecting a slightly radioactive substance into the patient’s bloodstream to locate illness or injury.

“One of our most common ailments are stress fractures, caused by intense physical activity in training,” Somekh said. In the past, it often took weeks for the soldier to be referred to medical imaging services, and for the results to come back to his army doctor. Today, Somekh said, the whole process – including an Xray and CT scan, can be completed in a day.

“The soldier receives a disc with the results, and takes it back to his doctor,” he said. “We’ve purchased a special camera that locates fractures in three dimensions.”

The technological upgrades and the move toward teleradiology mean that instead of having to ferry a doctor to remote southern or northern IDF medical clinics, injuries can be diagnosed in minutes from anywhere.

Some of the earliest use of mobile X-ray systems by the IDF was made in the 2010 Haiti earthquake aid operation.

The IDF delegation used the systems to help treat many injured Haitians.

After being treated and bandaged at the Israeli field hospital, some of the patents arrived at the floating US naval hospital with computer disks containing medical images of their injuries.

“That’s when the system proved itself. We set it up in a soccer field in the rain. It works under all conditions,” Somekh said.

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