Doctor uses his PHONE to diagnose kidney stones

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A cardiologist managed to diagnose himself with kidney stones by using his mobile phone.

After experiencing pain in his sides for several days, Californian-based Dr Eric Topol attempted to work out what was wrong.

Dr Topol, who works at Scripps Health in La Jolla, plugged a portable ultrasound scanner into his phone and held the device against his body.

The scanner than sent images to his device confirming a swollen kidney, which is often brought on through stones.

His diagnosis was later confirmed by doctors at hospital.

Although Dr Topol does not specialize in kidneys, as a keen advocate of mobile health technology, he trained himself to take organ scans earlier this year.

He said: ‘I never thought I was going to need to use it.

‘I thought it was a kidney stone, but I wasn’t sure because it wasn’t severe, but it was persistent,’ Vocativ reported.

Dr Topol uses smartphone ultrasound scanners on all of his patients.

He even connected a machine that detects heart rhythms, known as an electrocardiogram, to his iPhone to diagnose a fellow passenger’s heart attack on a plane in 2012.

Smartphone ultrasounds started being granted FDA approval back in 2011, however, Dr Topol says the cutting-edge technology is not taking off as he hoped.

He said: ‘Beyond a lack of training and habit, there are reimbursement issues.

‘If you use this device as a doctor, you can’t bill for it.’

Dubiously accurate apps like the blood pressure reader ‘Instant Blood Pressure’ have also discouraged doctors from adopting the technology.

Scientists at John Hopkins University, Baltimore, found the best-selling app gives inaccurate results almost 80 percent of the time.

The device claims to estimate a users blood pressure when they place their finger over the camera lens and push the bottom of the phone into their chest.

Yet, Dr Topol argues using mobile ultrasound devices helps to improve a patient’s relationship with their doctor, rather than the ultrasound being sent to the laboratory and the patient being left clueless.

He said: ‘The technician isn’t allowed to tell that patient anything…so the patient goes home without any knowledge of what the scan shows.’

As the technology behind such devices become more affordable and accessible, Dr Topol believes patients may one day be able to take their own scans and send the images to a doctor.

Beyond that, trained algorithms may one day take the place of doctors in interpreting the scans, he said.

This comes after researchers from the University of California have created a wristband that may diagnose and improve the treatment of conditions including cystic fibrosis and diabetes.

The device detects levels of different molecules in sweat, which may indicate a certain disease.

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