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Neil S. Shah explains, "In most laparoscopic surgeries there is a critical moment or maneuver which, if not performed accurately, can cause serious harm to the patient. For most institutions it is not feasible to provide authoritative specialists' opinion locally on hand. A visual teleconsultation system would therefore be very useful as a guidance or confirmation tool during these procedures."

A recent study estimates the percent of physicians using internet enabled smartphones will be 70% in the year 2011, so Shah and his team at Henry Ford Health System are hoping to enable medical teleconsultations via handheld device. To do so, they are using Epiphan's DVI2USB Solo frame grabber.

How It Works

Their solution uses the DVI2USB Solo frame grabber to capture video from a laparoscopic tower. To output the captured video, the frame grabber is connected to any standard laptop by a standard USB 2.0 and is compatible with all the major operating systems, including Windows, Mac and Linux.

An internet cable connects the laptop to the outside world. The laparoscopic video stream is captured to the laptop with high-definition clarity. Using free video conversion software, the captured clip is quickly converted to MPEG-4 video format, which popular handheld devices can detect and play. Finally, the video clip is emailed as an attachment to an expert physician in a remote location.

Shah says that the Henry Ford solution is far superior to alternative means of accomplishing the goal. "Previous telesurgical mentoring studies were made with high-end, fixed professional teleconferencing tower cameras using high-cost accessories. They can transmit only to predetermined, specially equipped central consultation sites and were complex to implement and use by non-technical physicians. Few expert surgeons would be willing to sacrifice the time and availability required to sit in a monitoring room."

Convenient, Affordable & Portable

Epiphan products make the Henry Ford solution "convenient, adaptable and portable," Shah says. "DVI2USB Solo is a key component for accessibility of expert opinion by operating surgeons at any time. With Epiphan, our system doesn't require highly special electronic wiring or extensive cabling of the working areas."

Shah also notes that Epiphan makes the system affordable because it is simple, requiring only commercially available devices (an existing laptop, cameras, Internet connection, and the Epiphan frame grabber), and free software.

"This affordable and adaptable teleconsultation system presents many benefits to physicians and more importantly to the patient," Shah concludes, "thanks to the accessibility of an expert opinion at any moment necessary."

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