Developments of new, ultra-light diagnostic ultrasound systems (UTS) and modern satellite telecommunication networks are opening new potential applications for diagnostic sonography. One such area is maritime medicine. It is our belief that ship officers can be trained to use diagnostic ultrasound systems with the aim to generate ultrasound images of sufficient quality to be interpreted by medical professionals qualified to read sonograms.
To test our thesis we included lectures and hands on scanning practice to the current maritime medicine curriculum at the Faculty of Maritime Studies at the University of Rijeka. Following the didactic and practical training all participating students examined several patients, some with pathology some without. Images obtained by students were then submitted for interpretation to a qualified physician (specialist of general surgery trained in UTS) who was unaware of the patient’s pathology.
In total, 37 students performed 37 examinations and made 45 ultrasound images, on 3 patients. In this paper, results on this pilot study are presented.
It is possible to teach ship officers to produce diagnostically usable ultrasound pictures aboard ships at sea. But before reaching final conclusion about applicability of telesonography on board merchant ships, further studies are necessary, that would include studies of economic feasibility, and on validity of introducing such a diagnostic tool to the maritime medical practice.
Ultrasound, maritime medicine, telemedicine
Dr Nebojsa Nikolić, Dr Vladimir Mozetić, Faculty of Maritime Studies, Rijeka, Croatia
Eng.Med.Rad. Bob Modrcin, Clinical Hospital Center Rijeka
Eng.Med.Rad. Slaven Jaksić, Slaven Medical System, Croatia
Address for correspondence:
Dr Nebojsa Nikolić
Riva Boduli 1