Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School announced on Feb. 2 that they deployed the first FDA-approved clinical robotic telecardiac ultrasound technology in the U.S.
Delivered from France, the MELODY robotic telecardiac ultrasound technology is the first of its kind rolled out in the U.S. for clinical use, according to the announcement, and will give patients more access to expert diagnostic imaging.
The system features a robotic arm, an ultrasound machine and video conferencing technology that connects the patient with professionals in two locations.
Last week, experts in Naveil, France, connected the system to the RWJUH and RWJMS cardiovascular team, led by Dr. Partho Sengupta, in New Brunswick. The team performed several hours of trans-Atlantic diagnostic ultrasound imaging in real time over a routine 4G cellular network, the announcement stated.
This system is being used in Europe and Canada and has been approved for clinical use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration.
The goal for is for this technology to one day be commonplace in rural community hospitals, pharmacies, rehabilitation facilities and other locations, according to the statement. Over the next two months, the team will work with sonographers to implement the technology for clinical care to make it available to the public later this year.
Sengupta — who is the Henry Rutgers professor of cardiology and chief of the Division of Cardiology at RWJMS, and chief of cardiology at RWJUH, as well as a member of the Combined Medical Group of RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Health — said making advanced diagnostic imaging capabilities available to patients in remote locations may prove to be a gamechanger in the fight against cardiovascular disease and toward reducing the impact of “health care deserts” emerging in small towns because of staff shortages.
“Imagine that a patient comes to an emergency department in the middle of the night and there are no sonographers present to perform the imaging exam that he or she needs,” Sengupta said in the prepared statement. “In the very near future, we can connect with a sonographer at another hospital or from their home to perform a cardiac ultrasound exam that could be lifesaving.”