Thanks to an ultrasound device attached to his iPhone, American doctor John Martin was able to detect a cancerous tumor in his neck. And with Martin having since recovered after receiving treatment for his cancer, the very same device he used will soon be available to consumers.
According to CNET, the Butterfly iQ is a razor-shaped portable device that can connect to a user’s iPhone, with startup Butterfly Network describing its creation as a way to make medical imaging available to “everyone.” Users simply have to place it on any part of their body that they wish to examine, as the device will then create a black-and-white ultrasound image and display it on the phone. It was this ultrasound device for iPhone that Martin was testing when he discovered that he has neck cancer.
“I felt something funny in my neck, connected the probe to my phone, did an ultrasound and there it was, my tumor,” recalled Martin, as quoted by the International Business Times.
As Martin was able to catch his cancer while early, he appears to have recovered well, having gone through surgery and radiation treatment since the time he used the Butterfly iQ to look further into the discomfort in his throat.
“The sooner we make a diagnosis, the sooner we can start treatment,” said Martin, adding that the Butterfly iQ is more than just an actual ultrasound machine substitute for iPhone users.
“We’ve hastened the time to diagnosis. And when you hasten the time to diagnosis, you hasten the time to treatment, the time to get better.”
The MIT Technology Review noted that there are differences between the Butterfly iQ and conventional ultrasound machines. For one, ultrasound gets its name from the sound waves shot into the human body and the echoes that come right after. Most ultrasound machines deliver sound through a vibrating crystal, but the iQ uses a different form of technology — a total of about 9,000 small drums etched onto a semiconductor chip, allowing for its portability.
Metrowest Medical Center (Massachusetts) emergency medicine official Erik Deede, who was one of the medical officials who helped Butterfly Network by giving testimonials that the Butterfly iQ works, said that the ultrasound device for iPhone is capable of getting results quickly. He even admitted to using the iQ more often than he uses his own ultrasound machine, as he can simply carry the smaller device in his pocket.
The Butterfly iQ is also being hyped up as an affordable ultrasound device for iPhone, and while the list price of $1,999 may sound like a lot of money, it is still cheaper than the average ultrasound machine. Furthermore, it is also expected to come with some useful features at some point in the future, as the Butterfly Network believes that the device could one day detect aortic aneurysms or other health problems, and come with artificial intelligence software that could help new users get and interpret the right set of images.
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