How This Hospital Used A $10 Microchip to Produce 3D Ultrasound Models

Joshua Broder, MD, associate professor of surgery at Duke Health, is helping to lead a team of physicians and engineers in an effort to improve the information captured by 2D ultrasound machines. The team has developed software that couples with a simple 3D-printed case attachment and a $10 sensor chip to convert 2D image slices into a contextual 3D ultrasound model.

This technology would allow existing 2D machine owners to maintain the portability and ease of use of their imaging units while greatly increasing the usefulness of the image outputs. Dr. Broder hopes the technology will advance enough to one day allow patients to use a similar device on themselves with enough accuracy to eliminate the need for a trip to an office or hospital.

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“With 2D technology you see a visual slice of an organ, but without any context, you can make mistakes,” said Joshua Broder, MD, an associate professor of surgery at Duke Health and one of the creators of the technology. “These are problems that can be solved with the added orientation and holistic context of 3D technology. Gaining that ability at an incredibly low cost by taking existing machines and upgrading them seemed like the best solution to us.”

“With trauma patients in the emergency department, we face a dilemma,” Broder said. “Do we take them to the operating room not knowing the extent of their internal injuries or bleeding, or do we risk transporting them to a CT scanner, where their condition could worsen due to a delay in care? With our new 3-D technique, we hope to demonstrate that we can determine the source of bleeding, measure the rate of bleeding right at the bedside and determine whether an operation is really needed.”

Need to brush up on ultrasounds? Make sure to read ten ways to prevent ultrasound mistakes!

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