Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NASA And Ultrasound

The machine you see to the left is a Philips 5000 modular ultrasound machine which is installed in the ISS. I have good friends that work at Johnson Space Center in Houston and many are physicians.  One of the benefits of the ISS is the medical research that is performed there by the astronauts.  One of the most useful technologies they use is the ultrasound machine.  They study everything from optic nerve diameters to diastolic function of the heart in the weightless environment.  As the medical director of the ISS once said to me: "One of the biggest challenges to the space program is keeping people alive and well in the hostile environment of outer space".  The machine pictured to the left recently died, and a smaller replacement ultrasound machine will be sent up to replace it.

A recent article on Space on MSNBC.com shows astronaut Leroy Chiao performing an eye examination onboard the International Space Station. The exam was performed on Salizhan Sharipov, a cosmonaut who took advantage of NASA’s ultrasound-based “all purpose diagnostic machine”. This ultrasound machine is unique, in that it is directly linked from the Space Station to doctors on Earth. Why use ultrasound machines in space? Like most of the other space-bound experiments, it has a practical application.

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