Ultrasound images transmitted via FaceTime are non-inferior to images on the ultrasound machine


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Abstract

Purpose:Remote telementored ultrasound (RTMUS) systems can deliver ultrasound (US) expertise to regions lacking highly trained bedside ultrasonographers and US interpreters. To date, no studies have evaluated the quality and clinical utility of US images transmitted using commercially available RTMUS systems.Methods:This prospective pilot evaluated the quality of US images (right internal jugular vein, lung apices and bases, cardiac subxiphoid view, bladder) obtained using a commercially available iPad operating FaceTime software. A bedside non-physician obtained images and a tele-intensivist interpreted them. All US screen images were simultaneously saved on the US machine and captured via a FaceTime screen shot. The tele-intensivist and an independent US expert rated image quality and utility in guiding clinical decisions.Results:The tele-intensivist rated FaceTime images as high quality (90% [69/77]) and could comfortably make clinical decisions using these images (96% [74/77]). Image quality did not differ between FaceTime and US images (97% (75/77). Strong inter-rater reliability existed between tele-intensivist and US expert evaluations (Spearman's rho 0.43; P < .001).Conclusion:An RTMUS system using commercially available two-way audiovisual technology can transmit US images without quality degradation. For most anatomic sites assessed, US images acquired using FaceTime are not inferior to those obtained directly with the US machine.

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