Fetal and Abdominal Echography Teleoperated using a Robotic Arm and Telephone or Satellite Link

P. Arbeille, J. Ayoub, V. Kieffer, J. Ruiz, G. Poisson, P. Vieytres, and F. Perrotin (France)


Echography, Emergency Robotic, Teleoperated, Abdomen, Fetus.


Objective: to design and validate a method for tele operating (from an expert site) an echographic examination in an isolated site where the patient stays. Method: A dedicated robotic arm holding a real ultrasound probe is remotely controlled from the expert site with a fictive probe, and reproduces on the real probe all the movements of the expert hand (ESTELE). The isolated places, are areas with reduced medical facilities, (secondary hospitals 20 to 50 km from the hospital in Europ, dispensaries in Africa, Amazonia, rescue vehicles…. Results: ESTELE was tested on 87 adults and 29 pregnants with ISDN or satellite lines. In all fetal tele operated echographies the expert was able to perform appropriate views of the fetal structures. During exploration of adult abdomen the expert visualized the main organs. Presently the ESTELE system is installed in 4 secundary hospitals, 40 to 100km from our University Medical center and tele-operated daily by our staff. Conclusion: Robotized tele-echography provide similar information as direct examination, no false diagnostic was reported. The system was easy to set up and the diagnosis was delivered in realtime during the examination. Moreover the patient was examined by an expert from the University Hospital while staying in the Medical center proximal to it’s home.

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