OTELO project studied and developed a fully integrated end-to-end mobile tele-echography system for population groups that are not served locally, either temporarily or permanently, by medical experts. OTELO project offers an alternative to medical centers that lack ultrasound specialists.
It is a portable ultrasound probe holder robotic system, associated with new mobile communications technologies, that reproduces the expert's hand movements during an ultrasound examination. Although being manipulated by non-specialised staff on the remote site, the slave system brings, in real time, good image quality back to the expert site where force feedback control is combined with virtual reality for the rendering of the distant environment.
From otelo website
Millions of people live in isolated sites (deserted areas, tropical forest, ...), in area with poor medical assistance (dispensaries, secondary hospital), or wait to be rescued by an emergency vehicle: there is a need to perform quick and reliable diagnosis to evaluate the gravity of the pathology in presence of clinical symptoms. Many pathological situations (abnormal heart rate, pericardia collection, mitral prolaps, cholecystis, renal lithiasis, normal and ectopic pregnancies, ovarian cyst, acute appendicitis, phlebitis...) may occur at any time. Echography and Doppler are non-invasive methods easy to use and very well adapted for routine examination such as for hospital. Unfortunately, many small medical centers, isolated sites, or rescue vehicles do not have the appropriate well trained sonographer to perform the first echography from which the evaluation of the emergency level could be done.
The mObile Tele-Echography using an ultra Light rObot project proposes a portable tele-operated device allowing a sonographer to perform an echography without being near the patient. It includes an expert station from which the expert (a sonographer) orientates a fictive probe. These movements are reproduced at patient station, several miles away, on a real probe held by the 6DOF robot and positionned on the patient by a paramedic. An audio/video link between the two sites allows communication between the expert, the assistant and the patient. The clinical tests started in February 2003.
Data processing is essential for robot control as well as force feedback control associated with a virtual environment graphic user interface to give the clinical expert (at the expert station) the best rendering of his distant ultrasound examination. For force feedback implementation, several options have been studied, from simple passive device to PHANToM® device.