• Press Release

Making Waves with Robotic Ultrasound Between New York and Chicago

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Rush University Medical Center are testing in a new clinical trial long-distance, tele-robotic ultrasound over the Internet.

  • (April 23, 2015)

A new clinical trial is testing the feasibility and efficiency of a doctor in New York City remotely performing long-distance, tele-robotic ultrasound exams over the Internet on patients in Chicago.

The pioneering study is a research collaboration between cardiovascular imaging specialists of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The research team is investigating if remote, long-distance tele-robotic ultrasound exams of the carotid artery in the neck could be just as efficient as traditional, in-person manual ultrasound exams to test for signs of carotid intima-media thickness and carotid atherosclerotic plaque which are risk factors for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.

The study, enrolling 100 study participants over the age of 60 in Chicago at Rush, is using a small, robotic arm outfitted with ultrasound technology and connected to a personal computer with a standard Internet connection. The robot is controlled over the Internet by a Mount Sinai New York cardiovascular specialist with the ability to complete a scan of the carotid artery in just four minutes. In addition, each patient will also receive a manual, in-person ultrasound exam by Rush to compare detection results.

"Launching long-distance, tele-robotic ultrasound exams between two major hospitals in two large cities is a sign that we may be able to make waves in accelerating access to and cost-effectiveness of this critical heart health imaging diagnostic tool to other cities, small towns, or rural communities in need," says Partho P. Sengupta, MD, the study's principal investigator at Mount Sinai and Director of Interventional Echocardiography and Cardiac Ultrasound Research, and Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

"Imaging technology is evolving at a rapid pace. If this tele-health breakthrough proves feasible and successful it may open the door for more accessible screening, prevention, and diagnostic capabilities for patients who may be at high-risk for cardiovascular diseases," says Rami Doukky, MD, MSc the study's principal investigator at Rush, Professor of Medicine and Radiology at Rush Medical College and the Interim Chief of Cardiology at the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago. 

"Our platform brings together remotely controllable robotics, ultrasound, and telepresence to allow an experienced operator located anywhere in the world to perform an ultrasound exam at a distance," says Jeffrey Soble, MD, Associate Professor of Cardiology at Rush University Medical Center, who is one of the creators of the novel tele-robotic healthcare technology being tested called TRUDI (Tele-Robotic Ultrasound for Distance Imaging), a product of the company TeleHealthRobotics which he co-founded with biomedical engineer Sarah Doherty.

This new pioneering clinical trial in the United States, builds upon the recent research breakthrough collaboration of Mount Sinai and TeleHealthRobotics' technology using remote, long-distance robotic-assisted ultrasound imaging internationally.

While in Germany, Mount Sinai's Dr. Sengupta, used TRUDI to perform the first robot-assisted trans-Atlantic ultrasound examination on a person in Boston. "Our successful first-in-man international experiment opened up a new frontier for the use of remote, robotic ultrasound imaging that could potentially be more efficient and cost-effective overall for healthcare delivery," says Dr. Sengupta.

In addition, Mount Sinai and collaborators in Sweden tested the feasibility of similar tele-robotic ultrasound technology within Sweden for heart failure patients at a remote primary care center located a far distance from the nearest Swedish hospital. "Our tele-robotic ultrasound approach reduced the time to care and improved patient satisfaction substantially," says Jagat Narula, MD, PhD, that study's senior investigator and Mount Sinai's Director of Cardiovascular Imaging.

"Our recent research breakthroughs give us a glimpse of what to expect in the near future, a patient-friendly imaging technology at your doorstep," added Dr. Narula.

Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart at Mount Sinai says: "Tele-robotic imaging may be the key'helping hand' we need to accelerate greater local and global healthcare access."

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is in the "Honor Roll" of best hospitals in America, ranked No. 15 nationally in the 2016-2017 "Best Hospitals" issue of U.S. News & World Report. The Mount Sinai Hospital is also ranked as one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Geriatrics, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Ear, Nose & Throat, and is in the top 50 in four other specialties. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 10 nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report in "Best Children's Hospitals."

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