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Doctor Spots Own Cancer With Pocket-Sized Ultrasound Connected To An iPhone

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A vascular surgeon detected his own cancer while running a test of a new portable ultrasound gadget for his iPhone. The doctor was testing the Butterfly iQ, a scanner the size of an electric razor when he decided to scan his own throat after noticing some discomfort and ended up discovering a cancerous mass in it.

“I felt something funny in my neck, connected the probe to my phone, did an ultrasound and there it was, my tumor,” Dr. John Martin said. Incidentally, the doctor is the chief medical officer of the company that created the miniature ultrasound device -- and undergone surgery and radiation treatment since the cancer was diagnosed.

Butterfly iQ And Smartphone

The ultrasound gadget is the product of a startup called Butterfly Network and is going to be launched in the U.S. market in 2018 for a price of $2,000. The handheld device is designed to be used in emergency situations, at the home or in an ambulance, to help detect a child’s injury, for instance.

The Butterfly iQ resembles an electric razor that can be connected to a smartphone through a wire. The users of the device can toggle through various modes on the screen and alter the gain on the ultrasound, which offers better views of tissues depending on their depth in the body.

On the screen, doctors can toggle through different modes and adjust the gain on the ultrasound, which allows them to get better views of tissue — based on how deep it is in the body.

The small gadget has a semiconductor chip with thousands of small drums that create the sound waves instead of the usual vibrating crystal setup of an ultrasound, according to a report. All a person has to do is rub the cold gel of an ultrasound onto themselves and then rub a small wand across the suspected problematic areas. The images will then be relayed to a smartphone.

Butterfly Network

Portable ultrasound machines have been used since the 1970s; however, even the most modern of these are too large to carry around in a pocket. Moreover, ultrasound machines use hardware that is inferior to the iPhone and cannot be used without skilled technicians.

Butterfly Network wants to implement AI into the gadget in the future, which will provide incredible medical insights and make it capable of being used by novices — unlike regular ultrasound machines that require medical know-how for use.

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