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Cheap, Portable Ultrasound Could a Be Lifesaver .

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the scan-me dept.

Cloud 139

ericjones12398 writes "Every year, around 250,000 women die due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth. New research developing cheap, portable ultrasounds could help reduce that number. From the article: 'Although diagnostic imaging is scarce in much of the developing world (mostly related to cost and portability), ultrasound imaging is a feasible technology for prototyping in low-resource settings such as developing countries. Indeed, many notable technology giants, such as GE and Siemens, are working on low-cost portable ultrasound models. GE’s Vscan is a handheld, pocket-sized visualization tool that allows for non-invasive ultrasounds. Mobisante, a startup in Seattle, takes portable ultrasound technology one step further with the MobiUS SP1 system, an ultrasound that wirelessly connects to the Internet or a smartphone for viewing results at an affordable price tag. By comparison, the large, clunky ultrasound machine most people associate with hospitals can cost anywhere from $32,000-$160,000.'"

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Could be a lifesaver for men too (4, Funny)

s0446 (2737999) | about 2 years ago | (#41440161)

So you know when it's the time to run away.

Ba-dum-ttsshhh

Re:Could be a lifesaver for men too (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 2 years ago | (#41440723)

Wow. That's really lame.

by comparison (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440163)

an ultrasound that wirelessly connects to the Internet or a smartphone for viewing results at an affordable price tag. By comparison, the large, clunky ultrasound machine most people associate with hospitals can cost anywhere from $32,000-$160,000.'"

So compare ??? to $32,000-$160,000

Re:by comparison (2)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#41440269)

Gizmodo has it [gizmodo.com] :

The best feature may be its price which is surprisingly low. Each [mobiUS] unit costs $7,495 which is slightly less than GE's mobile ultrasound machine, the GE Vscan which costs $7,900. And now after eight months of regulatory testing, the mobiUS is finally available for purchase.

Re:by comparison (1)

gmack (197796) | about 2 years ago | (#41441117)

Meanwhile the Chinese have had them for less than $2000 for several years now. [aliexpress.com]

Re:by comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441791)

And if it's cheap-or-none, with a life in the balance, you can get a poor res usb one on amazon for like $40.

Re:by comparison (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41441223)

And so now that the machine is down to 1/4th the price, the bill for it's use will....probably go up.

Re:by comparison (1)

cryptizard (2629853) | about 2 years ago | (#41440309)

According to the article, about $64.

$7900 (5, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | about 2 years ago | (#41440755)

And that's the "buy now" price for the "Interson SeeMore USB Portable Ultrasound Abdominal Probe". [bonmil.com]

On the other hand...
As someone who had 3 different ultrasound diagnoses, to the same heart condition, by 2 specialists - which in the end turned out to be of viral origin (they were literally chasing shadows); and who later had a dubious privilege of fixing and editing hundreds of ultrasound photos for an ultrasound textbook, with each step done according to the instructions of an instructor/teacher with some 40 years in the ultrasound diagnostic - price of the equipment is not the biggest obstacle in getting the ultrasound "to the masses".

It's training and experience.
And you need literally years of both to start making your ultrasound guesses educated.
Cause without both extensive training with an experienced ultrasound technician AND years of experience in doing ultrasounds of that particular section of human body - that whole "subjective interpretation of an objective method" thing amounts to just guessing.

There's an episode of House [wikia.com] where this is nicely demonstrated by House and Wilson trying to figure out if Cuddy's daughter has swallowed a coin.
On ultrasound it might be a dime, or it may just be an air bubble.

Re:$7900 (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 2 years ago | (#41441405)

I got an echocardiogram this morning. I'd been waiting for the appointment since January.

So yes, I agree, it's about training and experience.

Re:$7900 (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 2 years ago | (#41441633)

I'd been waiting for the appointment since January.

Hope the results were favorable.

Re:$7900 (3, Interesting)

sl149q (1537343) | about 2 years ago | (#41441705)

I was getting an Ultrasound directed procedure done a year ago and commented to the Doctor doing it that the very expensive (I think GE) device he was using would be available as a dongle and iPhone app within a year or two.

He bristled at the suggestion saying that it wouldn't replace his decade of experience using them and interpreting the results.

I can sympathize to a certain extent. But I suspect that there are still a vast range of simple procedures that could be helped with this type of device. That over time more MD's (especially in the 3rd world) will gain experience (the hard way by simply using them.)

And since these are connected to devices with amazing amounts of CPU power machine based diagnostic tools will also be just around the corner.

There will still be the hard corner cases where only an experience and well practiced professional should be using this or something more expensive to figure something out (the "House" scenarios.) But there will also be a much better care at lower cost for a wide range of things.

Re:$7900 (2)

denzacar (181829) | about 2 years ago | (#41442393)

There will still be the hard corner cases where only an experience and well practiced professional should be using this or something more expensive to figure something out (the "House" scenarios.) But there will also be a much better care at lower cost for a wide range of things.

Actually, the House scenario I mention above is a VERY simple and a very typical case.
A kid swallowing a coin. Two doctors suspecting just that.
They do an ultrasound - and they can't agree if what they are seeing is a coin or a pocket of gas.

It is a diagnostic method highly dependent on subjective interpretation. I.e. Trained intuition based on expert training and experience.

That over time more MD's (especially in the 3rd world) will gain experience (the hard way by simply using them.)

Without actual expert guidance and additional diagnostic methods such as X-ray only experience they will gain is in writing death certificates - cause they'll be doing a lot of faulty and unnecessary operations based on worse than guesswork.
Why worse? Because it will be guesswork backed by authority of technology.
As a bonus, use of such devices will drain what little there's left of the communal medical resources - as bad diagnostic will have them chasing imaginary diseases and injuries.

Re:$7900 (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41442295)

There's an episode of House [wikia.com] where this is nicely demonstrated by House and Wilson trying to figure out if Cuddy's daughter has swallowed a coin. On ultrasound it might be a dime, or it may just be an air bubble.

Radio Shack sells metal detectors for about $100.

Re:$7900 (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 2 years ago | (#41442579)

They were trying to hide the fact that the kid may have swallowed a coin while they were babysitting her.
Knowing that she has swallowed a coin doesn't really help them as they were working with that conclusion from the start.
The question was is the coin in a safe place (i.e. it will come out soon on its own) or could it possibly cause a health problem for the kid.

Also, how to get it out without Cuddy finding about it.

women (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440221)

It could also increase the number of gender-specific abortions.

Money better spent (2, Interesting)

sunking2 (521698) | about 2 years ago | (#41440225)

Education so they don't get knocked up in the first place. I'm not sure how you address famine by increasing the rates of overpopulation.

Re:Money better spent (1)

s0446 (2737999) | about 2 years ago | (#41440315)

And why should I wear condom when having sex? It takes away all the fun.

Re:Money better spent (5, Funny)

mr1911 (1942298) | about 2 years ago | (#41440599)

And why should I wear condom when having sex? It takes away all the fun.

You do not have to wear a condom. Your hand cannot get pregnant.

The earlier post was referring to those that have sex with women.

Re:Money better spent (1)

Hartree (191324) | about 2 years ago | (#41440615)

"And why should I wear condom when having sex? It takes away all the fun."

Yup. Changing diapers at 3 am is such fun.

Re:Money better spent (2)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41440689)

It is fun if you want it to be :)

Re:Money better spent (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#41440905)

Clearly you've been up changing diapers at 3am far too many times, you're getting delusional.

Re:Money better spent (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 2 years ago | (#41440623)

Hows the food at the Ecuadorian embassy?

Re:Money better spent (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440703)

Better than at yours, fatty.

-- J.A.

Re:Money better spent (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41440345)

Education so they don't get knocked up in the first place. I'm not sure how you address famine by increasing the rates of overpopulation.

Increased certainty.

By making family planning realistic, and less of a crapshoot, 3rd world women don't have to have as many babies.
Subsistence farmers have always had to maximize the number of children in order to survive.

Easy (2)

srussia (884021) | about 2 years ago | (#41440403)

I'm not sure how you address famine by increasing the rates of overpopulation.

The same way you eliminate bugs by not writing software in the first place.

Re:Money better spent (2)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | about 2 years ago | (#41440497)

Perhaps instead it will be used to abort more female babies, which will reduce the population, perhaps drastically. (Apart from leaving a generation of frustrated men). This already happens, BTW, in both India and China.

Re:Money better spent (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 2 years ago | (#41440717)

It'd be a stretch to see the minority vagina phobia of the western fundamentalists (and their like-minded fundie immigrant friends) translate in to a broad movement to abort girls. Not impossible, but pretty unlikely for the foreseeable future.

and also.... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#41440255)

who knows what else will happen from making this cheap and portable?

Sadly because it will be called a "medical device" real innovation with them will be limited since they will be hard to get ahold of cheaply to play with (its a medical device afterall)

However.... I have to wonder how many random uses an ultrasound imaging device would have, if you took off the "medical device" label and let people have at it.

Even in medical fields, I have had an ultrasound, turns out you can use one to look through the liver at the heart. There is no reason to expect these will only help pregnant women, or be limited to old uses that had cost and availability of equipment factored into justification as to whether to use them.

Re:and also.... (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41440383)

Market it as a veterinary device.

Re:and also.... (1)

boristdog (133725) | about 2 years ago | (#41440667)

Also handy for finding kidney stones.

Re:and also.... (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41440743)

What? Your rant makes little sense. We've had small, portable ultrasounds for years. Looking at TFA I'm not seeing much of a breakthrough - they're perhaps a bit cheaper, a bit better but I don't see the breakthrough. You can buy second hand portables for a couple of grand.... No, you don't need a really expensive or sophisticated machine to do routine obstetrics work and there are thousands of cheap, used and entirely functional ultrasounds running around. It's not the lack of technology that causes much of the 'third world' medical problems. It is the social, political and economic structures that limit creation of any sort of useful infrastructure to use the technology.

You can go buy one off the Internet without a medical degree - you just need a valid credit card. You can't charge people to have their gall bladders looked into. At that point you are 'practicing medicine'. But you can run around and impress your friends should you be so inclined. You can be as innovative as you like. That's not the problem at all.

the $65 one is the real news here (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#41441161)

The really big deal is the one from the Newcastle team that they estimate will cost $65. That's orders of magnitude less than the other "low-cost" devices around.

Even with degraded accuracy, having _some_ imaging capability is almost certainly better than having none.

Quite contrary... (2)

denzacar (181829) | about 2 years ago | (#41441973)

Even with degraded accuracy, having _some_ imaging capability is almost certainly better than having none.

Having "some" ultrasound diagnostic capability of questionably quality is WORSE than having none.

First, you have to realize that the problem with ultrasound diagnostic is not in the lack of equipment.
Its in the lack of experts. And you really need EXPERTS, not technicians. Why?

Well, its the second thing - without years of expertise it is just a guessing game.
And experts become experts after years of training and experience of ultrasound imaging and diagnostic - on a very specific part of the body.
It's one of those "more art than science" things.
They are looking at shadows and reflections from inside of a living, moving 3D object - trying to make out a detail which would indicate some possible medical condition for that particular region of the human body.

Give a low capability device to someone with an "ultrasound course" and all you'll get is more faulty diagnoses, more "inconclusive" results and more work for the ultrasound specialists due to such ultrasounds.
You might as well equip each doctor with a portable machine that goes "PING!". [youtube.com]

Re:and also.... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#41440939)

turns out you can use one to look through the liver at the heart

If your heart (or liver) is in the wrong quadrant of your trunk, you have yourself some serious problems...

Re:and also.... (1)

sl149q (1537343) | about 2 years ago | (#41441733)

It just means that you'll have to buy it from an eBay seller in Hong Kong or Dubai.

Selective abortions (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#41440307)

Cost is not the only issue. Ultrasound equipment is severely regulated in some countries because it is used for gender identification that results in selective abortions. When my wife was pregnant in Shanghai, we had to go to a special hospital for foreigners to get an ultrasound.

Re:Selective abortions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440501)

I was going to post the exact same thing - about abortions not about your wife. But mine had the much better Subject line that these people should have tattooed on their foreheads "UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES"

Re:Selective abortions (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41442207)

Rather than banning ultrasounds, how about we subsidize the production of girls? Use the carrot, not the stick.

It needs to be said (1)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | about 2 years ago | (#41440313)

Instead of facilitating the addition of millions of babies into poverty, perhaps a much greater emphasis should be placed on preventing their conception.

Re:It needs to be said (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#41440557)

Instead of facilitating the addition of millions of babies into poverty, perhaps a much greater emphasis should be placed on preventing their conception.

One of the best ways to encourage women to have fewer babies is to make them feel more confident that those fewer babies are going to be healthy.

Re:It needs to be said (1)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | about 2 years ago | (#41441099)

I think the population explosion in poorer countries over the last 50 years pretty conclusively shows that to be false.

Re:It needs to be said (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#41442671)

I think the population explosion in poorer countries over the last 50 years pretty conclusively shows that to be false.

There is a very strong correlation between child mortality and birthrate. When war or famine kills children, women tend to have even more children to compensate. The country with the highest birthrate in the world is Niger, which is currently experiencing both a famine and a civil war.

When UNICEF installed wells to provide clean water in many African villages, rates of childhood diarrhea fell, and the birthrate fell right along with it, and fell by more than the mortality decreased. The birthrate in neighboring villages did not fall. There is plenty more evidence showing similar results for vaccinations, anti-malaria bed nets, nutritional programs, literacy programs, and even electrification (kids are much healthier when they don't inhale soot from candles and cooking fires). All of these things reduce population growth.

Re:It needs to be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41442613)

Yes indeed, because women always have 100% free choice in when they want to have babies.

Especially in pro-choice America.

But ESPECIALLY in third-world countries.

Invasive? (2)

gtirloni (1531285) | about 2 years ago | (#41440329)

"GE’s Vscan is a handheld, pocket-sized visualization tool that allows for non-invasive ultrasounds."

I can only imagine the military-grade ultrasound cannon required for an invasive ultrasound exam.

Re:Invasive? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41440417)

"Invasive" ultrasound can be used to break up kidney stones. Much, much, louder than the imaging version.

Re:Invasive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440835)

Is it any good for tormenting dogs? Some bastard keeps letting theirs shit right in front of our outside door.

Re:Invasive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440979)

I think a pellet rifle would do the job far more effectively. Especially if you hit the owner instead.

Re:Invasive? (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about 2 years ago | (#41441235)

They also have one for early preganancy tests that is inserted into the vagina. Much easier to see a baby in the first 8 weeks with this kind. It's very invasive looking.

Re:Invasive? (1)

aztrailerpunk (1971174) | about 2 years ago | (#41440699)

I can only imagine the military-grade ultrasound cannon required for an invasive ultrasound exam.

The TSA has already ordered $3 billion worth of the Vscan - MGUC

Re:Invasive? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#41440997)

I'd rather they ultrasound me than use one of those scanners. From my understanding ultrasound does not utilize radiation.

Re:Invasive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440729)

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003779.htm

Re:Invasive? (1)

nutgirdle (2640927) | about 2 years ago | (#41440869)

Some anon already mentioned this, but there is such a thing as trans-vaginal and trans-esophageal (even experimental trans-urethral!!!) ultrasound.

Re:Invasive? (1)

logistic (717955) | about 2 years ago | (#41441011)

"GE’s Vscan is a handheld, pocket-sized visualization tool that allows for non-invasive ultrasounds."

I can only imagine the military-grade ultrasound cannon required for an invasive ultrasound exam.

No cannons ( they didn't say invasion ultrasound...) but :

Transesophageal echocardiograpy (heart) : http://pie.med.utoronto.ca/TEE/TEE_content/TEE_standardViews_intro.html [utoronto.ca]

Endobronchial ultrasound (lung and mediastinum) : http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/455720_7 [medscape.com]

Endoscopic ultrasound (pancreas liver etc) : http://www.asge.org/patients/patients.aspx?id=380 [asge.org]

Intravascular ultrasound (coronoary arteries etc) : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intravascular_ultrasound [wikipedia.org]

Transrectal ultrasound(guess) : http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/457757-overview [medscape.com]

As mentioned by others trans vaginal is pretty common.

Most of these are usefull technologies but not the priority for resource constrained environments. The device featured in the TFA is intriguing. The question is how flexible a crystal they'll put in it, eg how specialized a device will it be will it see only very shallow structures only deep? Can they make a device at this cost with a useful resolution? The answer is probably yes but it will be interesting to see.

Re:Invasive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441429)

Actually, this is opposed to the invasive equipment under development for the TSA where they shove it up your hoo hoo to check for bombs and drugs and mexicans.

Re:Invasive? (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | about 2 years ago | (#41442255)

"GE’s Vscan is a handheld, pocket-sized visualization tool that allows for non-invasive ultrasounds."
I can only imagine the military-grade ultrasound cannon required for an invasive ultrasound exam.

Since none of the other commenters replying seem to have yet touched on this, I was involved in the design and manufacture of ultrasound imaging devices that were fed into the femoral artery and snaked up to image the heart from the inside, aka invasive ultrasound.

Ultrasound is not expensive (4, Interesting)

kheldan (1460303) | about 2 years ago | (#41440359)

I used to work for an ophthalamic ultrasound company. The hardware itself doesn't need to be expensive if you want basic functionality; it can be done in a USB-attachable box and run on any Windows machine. What makes devices like this expensive is the FDA (and it's equivalent agencies in non-U.S. countries) and all the extensive testing that needs to be done before they'll approve the device for sale. For ophthalamic ultrasound, I believe it cost something on the order of $50000US to perform all the testing that the FDA required before it could be legally sold. Other countries would require their own testing. All of this ends up driving the cost up. Of course the mere fact that it's a medical device means that the manufacturers jack the price up to make a gigantic profit off it, because doctors don't have much choice of where to buy their equipment, too.

Re:Ultrasound is not expensive (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41440621)

If it makes you feel better, the cost to test/approve a "new" engineered item for use in residential construction, the costs are similar - $50,000-$100,000 - to complete all of the required testing and documentation (ICC-ES) for nearly "automatic" approval by code officials.It's all about the guarantee of safety, and it's partially because there is no one holding the bag when things go wrong. Nobody will (actually, no one can) put their livelihood on the line to vouch for it.

Re:Ultrasound is not expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441307)

YES. And you can build a baby-incubator from Toyota parts.

All you do is give up reliability, calibration, redundancy, traceability. All the stuff that makes FDA-blessed stuff cost 10x or more.
You can also buy knockoff medicines. Let your radiologist diagnose you on a iPad screen. QA is for pussies.

(Have done medical software before)

Actually I don't like govt controls --I'd rather shop amongst Consumer Review or Kosher certifications. But realize *why* some stuff costs more, whether organic, halal, or fda-approved.

Re:Ultrasound is not expensive (1)

olau (314197) | about 2 years ago | (#41441599)

If you can sell a lot of them 50k USD isn't really that much. I think you're right the big price is because this is not marketed to consumers, it's marketed to the health sector where people are used to pay a lot of money for their equipment.

Re:Ultrasound is not expensive (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#41442195)

I was at a company with a relatively inexpensive and portable ultrasound system that could be docked to larger cart and with image quality equal to top end systems. They're still around but it's not a great time to be a medical device company. At the time though many hospitals were stopping all capital purchases even for cheaper and better equipment. Most competing portable ultrasounds were lower quality and stuck with a flatter "laptop" form factor which really hurts in a lot of technical ways as well as usability (you can't use them easily in the field w/o a table). It is kind of sad that the market is dominated by giant multinationals that create mediocre equipment lacking in innovation.

Used to be at a company too that was acquired by Siemens (after I left) so that they could get a respected name to put on their average machines, and over time it dragged down quality and morale.

So they can then starve to death? (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#41440395)

Sounds like half a plan.

Excellent products (1)

Valor958 (2724297) | about 2 years ago | (#41440449)

With all the advancement in the medical industry, I honestly find it somewhat surprising this has taken so long to come about. There are a lot more implications than just pregnancy observation this device could work for. These could be issued to Military Medics and First Responders for more accurate treatment and diagnosis on the spot. They could also be used in other emergency situations to address concerns from injury prior to opening the person up. Specifically, car accidents and from the military standpoint gunshots and concussive force damage (IED blasts do more than visible damage with the shock impact on the body). Ultrasounds technology has a lot more uses than that.. Google for more examples if you need more convincing lol.
The prices on current commercial ultrasounds vary so wildly in the article due to the varied models and types available. The cheaper ones are probably entry level models for clinics, etc. The more expensive models can utilize both invasive and non-invasive examinations and would include the ‘4D’ ultrasounds as well.
Hopefully the low cost will also lower the cost to the consumer/patient in that more ultrasounds can be counted on insurance and at a lower overall cost. I know several people who could only get 5 ultrasounds covered before it came out of pocket. Out of pocket, ultrasounds add up quickly to be very expensive. For high risk pregnancies they are an absolute must as well.

Re:Excellent products (1)

Valor958 (2724297) | about 2 years ago | (#41440513)

...and for all those commenting about this contributing to overpopulation or mocking China's gender identification practices, I don't really see how that fits an article like this. Then again, how rarely does a /. comment section actually stay ON topic or relevent?
In recent news, a baby seal washed up on a beach.... -- comment "Stupid Repubs/Dems... now they're killing baby seals!" XD

Re:Excellent products (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#41441037)

Indeed. If China wanted to use these, they wouldn't need us for it.

Re:Excellent products (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440653)

With all the advancement in the medical industry, I honestly find it somewhat surprising this has taken so long to come about.

It's from at least 2010, not that that was oh so long ago.

GE Healthcare launches portable ultrasound device
http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2010/03/01/story9.html?page=all
Date: Sunday, February 28, 2010, 11:00pm CST - Last Modified: Thursday, February 25, 2010, 3:38pm CST

"GE Healthcare isn’t the first to bring a hand-held ultrasound device to market. Siemens AG introduced a similar scanner in 2007. Other medical equipment manufacturers have followed with similar products."

Chooicing to cause a poplulation drop (1)

oxnyx (653869) | about 2 years ago | (#41440469)

While I disagree personally with not chooicing to have a baby due it "likely" gender. As a historian I feel that long term it could work out. If the population becoming to ratio one way then the value of the smaller group tends to increase. This can be seen in tradions of a "bride price" ie the man has to pay the bride's family. Having a shortage of woman could also force there to be a drop in the population. As an added bouns drop number of woman below that of men tends to cause wars which also tend to kill lots of the poplulation. It's not a nice way to get the population down but it does give all though men not getting any something to died for.

A neat toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440543)

I think I'd be able to find several kinky uses for transvaginal ultrasounds.

Re:A neat toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440669)

I don't think the ultrasound part matters at that point.

Get Rid of Stupid Laws Instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440547)

Our first child was in a hospital. It was the worst delivery she ever had--misplaced spinal line, back spasms, nearly 20 hours in labor, and finally a c-section that left her drugged up and unable to properly care for the newborn.

After that, we said "fuck the hospital" and did everything at home. By ourselves.

The one thing we can't do at home--due to idiotic laws--is get an ultrasound.

We've always wanted to get one a week before her due date to see if there will be any complications and to see if the baby is in position. But our state says a doctor is the only person qualified to use an ultrasound. Ok. So send me to a doctor. Nope. Not unless your 'baby doctor' refers you. Well--we don't have one. (With our second baby, we said we were doing it at home and the 'baby doctor' threatened to have us arrested for child endangerment for not using a hospital.) So no way in hell can we get an ultrasound.

Cost of first child (hospital birth): $32,000
Cost of three additional children (all born at home): $125 in bulb syringes, blankets, a scale, a 'homebirth certificate' with footprints, etc...

Re:Get Rid of Stupid Laws Instead (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41440793)

Just buy an ultrasound on eBay and learn how to use it. No, you don't need to have a prescription for it or anything. Say you're buying it for use in engineering. It'd have cost you way less than one hospital childbirth.

I don't know where you are, but in the U.S. home childbirths aren't unheard of. Get a midwife and do it at home, the ob-gyn has to respect your wishes in that regard. You could have made a lot of fuss about those child endangerment threats, in the U.S. at least.

Re:Get Rid of Stupid Laws Instead (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440965)

Cost of child born at home to parents who didn't know enough to know they had a problem: $1,000,000. In the first year. Friend/colleague who is a high risk OB (and supporter of home birth, FYI) sees them with growing regularity.

I'm not against home birth, either. Just make sure there's someone there who knows how these things are supposed to go and knows enough to raise the red flag.

see if the baby is in position
You have a spouse with a history on complicated delivery and you want to do this at home as VBAC and think that knowing the fetal position will give you an assessment of the risk of the delivery? Would you know how to read an ultrasound? Would the information you could glean from the ultrasound make you change what you were going to do? Would you know how to do a Leopold?

Glad you were successful (I'm sure you would have detailed how poorly your outcome was, if so too) but you are playing with some risks that you might not be aware of.

Re:Get Rid of Stupid Laws Instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441013)

Cost of first child (hospital birth): $32,000
Cost of three additional children (all born at home): $125 in bulb syringes, blankets, a scale, a 'homebirth certificate' with footprints, etc...

Your problem isn't the ultrasound, your problem is your society which believes universal health care is a socialist affront to money over everything.

Re:Get Rid of Stupid Laws Instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41442113)

The GP is from Strawmania? Well, his English is excellent.

Re:Get Rid of Stupid Laws Instead (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 2 years ago | (#41441909)

Well your first problem right there is that you have 4 children. Holy shit dude.
The second problem here, for anyone that follows your footsteps, is that while the typical birth is perfectly possible at home, any complication quickly goes from "that's troubling" to "oh shit everyone is dead". I mean, for your three home births did you have to deal with twins? 12lbs babies? Premies? Breech births? C-section? How quickly could you hook up an apnic baby to a ventilator? Because you're going to lose the baby if you're not quick enough. And for a lot of these scenarios, you're going to lose the mother as well.

This is why healthcare for the healthy is cheap.

Tricorder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440641)

"Tricorder Please"

Red Shirt passes tricorder...

"No!!!.. A Medical Tricorder you dolt!!!"

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440655)

Why do humans focus on saving lives instead of preventing the creation of lives that need saving? We have enough people on the planet. There's no shortage of humans. Why are we expending so many resources towards preserving their numbers?

Re:Why? (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about 2 years ago | (#41441311)

It's a genetic imperative. Intellectually, we know there are too many people on the planet, but deep down in our genes, we have been programmed by millions of years of evolution to procreate to levels that will make the decimation of the human species impossible. Once we have reached the limits of the resources of this planet, we will travel to other planets. Thereby ensuring the human species is impossible to wipe out.

Too bad about electricity and training to use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440701)

It requires a trained technician to interpret those much-fuzzier-than-current-technology images. Training and retention of said technician will be 8x-400x the cost of the unit, plus implementation. There's the electricity infrastructure problem, too. (You know, for turning it on, keeping it charged, etc.) Oh, and what about the medical infrastructure to support treating whatever is found by the ultrasound? Sorry that you have a placenta previa, there's nothing we can do about it here or within 100 miles, or that you can afford to pay for.

This thing (and similar units) is basically a twin-fetus detector, and an extremely expensive one at that.

It sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41440713)

It sucks people die but 250,000/year.... Here is some numbers

3 Births Every Second
180 Births Every Minute
10,800 Births Every Hour
259,000 Births Every Day

Give it two days and all those babies and all those mothers are replaced by the numbers (not callously).

In America... (1)

Fished (574624) | about 2 years ago | (#41440759)

In America, the cows get ultrasounds. What a country!

Unless you are an un-born girl in China (1)

1967mustangman (883255) | about 2 years ago | (#41440761)

It will be interesting to see how this factors into the gender selection battles in China. It is currently illegal in China to perform an ultrasound or a sonogram for purposes of telling the parents the gender of the child. There are clandestine ultrasound techs who drive around with the machines in their trunk and flee when the cops catch wind of what is going on. This could turn all of that on its head.

Prenatal care? (1, Interesting)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 2 years ago | (#41440781)

During the recent healthcare debates in the USA I was stunned to read how many American women deliver babies with zero prenatal care - They present at emergency in labour and it's the first time they see a doc. Blew my mind that that sort of thing could go on in 'the greatest nation on earth.' Sounded more like The Sudan to me.

Re:Prenatal care? (1)

magarity (164372) | about 2 years ago | (#41442071)

During the recent healthcare debates in the USA I was stunned to read how many American women deliver babies with zero prenatal care - They present at emergency in labour and it's the first time they see a doc. Blew my mind that that sort of thing could go on in 'the greatest nation on earth.' Sounded more like The Sudan to me.

During the recent healthcare debates I was stunned to read that despite every state (not "most", "every") already having a Medicaid program including prenatal care a lot of low income people just don't know any better and show up at the emergency room during labor to see a doc for the first time. Yes, the USA definitely needs to address this serious problem by adopting a nationalized health care system.

Needed: low-cost 3D ultrasound (1)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41440927)

At the high end, there's 3D real time ultrasound. [4dfetalimaging.com] This builds up a 3D image from multiple scans from different directions. The ultrasound part of this is no more complex than the basic machines. The 3D part is knowing where the sensor is and software to build up a 3D image. 3D images are much easier to interpret than simple reflection images, and you can rotate them and look from another angle.

So what's needed is a handheld device with a position tracking system. You could probably kludge something together with a 6DOF INS (an accelerometer and rate gyro chip) and a mouse sensor to track movement along the body. The rest is software.

Re:Needed: low-cost 3D ultrasound (1)

SnowDog74 (745848) | about 2 years ago | (#41441157)

This isn't needed so much as adequate training... a good radiologist/ultrasound technician can identify defects/anomalies in a 2D planar image. If more complex imaging were required, it wouldn't do the patient much good without being near a Level 1 trauma center fully equipped to actually do anything about it. And even then, three dimensional ultrasonography is very low in detail. There's not a tremendous amount more diagnostic information you'll gain, versus sending them to an L1 trauma center equipped with MRI.

Re:Needed: low-cost 3D ultrasound (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#41442277)

I've used a few of these, even on portable machines. Can do it easily without high accuracy, because if you don't scan slowly most of the image is interpolation anyway.

Though to be fair, diagnostically the 3D part is relatively small. For obstetrics it seems to be a big hit to provide screenshots for expectant parents, often as just the last step after the real exam is over. The market for 3D was much smaller outside OB.

Then there would be less girls (2)

bubblegoose (473320) | about 2 years ago | (#41441005)

In third world countries, where they need the boys to work the fields, they would abort a girl at the first chance. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9103831/In-the-third-world-unwanted-baby-girls-disappear.-Its-called-gendercide.-And-its-happening-in-this-country-too.html [telegraph.co.uk]

Re:Then there would be less girls (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41441279)

Women say: "My body, my choice." Nobody can tell them otherwise when they decide to have an abortion. They can have one at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all.

Re:Then there would be less girls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441321)

Fucking women. We gave them the right to vote and it's been a slippery slope ever since.

Re:Then there would be less girls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441867)

Fucking women.

Good luck with that. 20 years after all the girl babies are aborted, you'll be stuck fucking blowup dolls.

Re:Then there would be less girls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41442283)

I mean the funny part is families having girls will probably get great deals from prospective suitors, think about. I have 2 of 20 daughters for 200+ men in the area. What do you as a young man have to offer me??? No doubt that sounded barbaric by "more civilized" standardizes but in these areas it was the tradition up to now that fathers give money to husbands to help them take care of their new wives. But the problem is that people won't realize the cultural shift that will come down them like a tidal wave. Well, actually it already starting in many regions.

Re:Then there would be less girls (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 2 years ago | (#41441759)

And yet girls right now earn more income in the factories in Shenzhen than boys. Give it time, all things balance out.

Thank you Ultrasound! (1)

Saija (1114681) | about 2 years ago | (#41441079)

Thanks to this technology and a good gynecologist my wife and I were informed that our little daughter have spina biffida, this helped the doctors to program a C Section to my wife and decide the best action to follow. Right now my baby is 19 month old and doing great!
Thank you technology and thank you science and medical advances!!

Ultrasound has many applications (1)

SnowDog74 (745848) | about 2 years ago | (#41441141)

The thing lacking in both the original article and the comments here (except for a few) is that ultrasonographic imaging has many diagnostic applications outside of neonatal care. Cardiopulmonary medicine, nephrology, hepatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology... the list goes on. All of these applications would make low cost, portable ultrasonography extremely beneficial in third world and developing countries.

Any technology (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 2 years ago | (#41441265)

Make ANY medical technology cheap and portable and it'll save lives.

Sonic Screwdriver (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441375)

Can you sonic me, hunny?

You can buy one today (1)

olau (314197) | about 2 years ago | (#41441801)

My gf had a baby last year so I actually went looking for this to see if you could buy them cheap from Hong Kong. As it turns out, you can in fact buy the USB gadget with the actual hardware, the problem is that you also need some software to do the imaging, and they generally sell that with a netbook in one ugly looking package. The cheapest online quote I found was something north of 8000-10000 USD.

But you can buy it. So I don't think the hardware is actually the problem. It's just a question of the current customer base being doctors with lots of money to burn. I'm sure that if these were marketed with micro USB and an iPhone/Android app to pregnant consumers, the prices would be in the range 100-500 USD. Assuming ultrasound is not harmful if overdone, I actually think this could be good business. Prospective parents spend a lot of money on baby-related stuff.

Cheap Does Not Mean Diagnostic (2)

krisdickie (2535126) | about 2 years ago | (#41442167)

I have worked in this exact field for 12+ years (see www.ultrasonix.com) - started as a software developer, and now involved with internal/external research and product development for the past 5 years. What the article fails to mention is that, sure there are a lot of low cost options in the market, there always have been and always will be - but their diagnostic capabilities are so inferior, that to try and address problems like pregnancy complications may be pointless. Obstetrical ultrasound is one of the most in-depth examinations that sonography can provide, and I doubt that with current technology the article is referencing (@ $100) that anything diagnostic can be achieved to help save the lives. I.e. why waste money and training time on an inferior technology, when perfectly capable ones already exist for a relatively low price already when pegged against other imaging modalities such as CT/MR/PET, etc. To give an idea, a $10,000 system is a low-cost ultrasound device these days (article references GE's V-Scan and Siemens P10 that fall under this category). These devices can definitely help see the fetus and help with very specific diagnoses, but if I knew my wife was at risk of complications, I would be appalled if she were scanned with a device like this when getting screened, so I just can't imagine that $100 technology will provide anything useful, even in 3rd world. I do believe that we'll have a ~$1000 scanner on the market, that's smart-phone sized and will provide wonderful diagnostic images, but probably not for another 10 years or so. And even in this case, it would be limited to specific exams. It would be interesting if the Newcastle group disclosed more information on their proposed technology in any case - always looking forward to the future of looking inside our bodies!
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