Ph Arbeille is the Director of UMPS, Space Medicine and Physiology Research Unit, at University Hospital Trousseau, France. His area of research is Human adaptation and deconditioning in extreme environment (microgravity, bed rest, confinement...), and Tele-echography (Robotic arm, motorized transducer, 3D capture, remote echograph) for ground and space application.


Objective: The objective was to design an integrated echograph and motorized probe unit which could be fully controlled from away by an expert. Method: The function (Gain, depth, freeze, PW colour Doppler, 3D capture and measures.) of a commercial echograph were controlled via internet. Two engines inside a probe allowed tilting and rotating the transducer from away according to the movement of expert hand on a dummy probe. A non-sonographer person by the side of the patient located the motorized probe (400 g, 240 cm3) on the patient, on top of the acoustic window of the organ as indicated by the expert by visio conference. Then the expert controlled the orientation of the transducer, until he got the appropriate view of the organ. He also adjusted the image display (Gain, depth.) and activated at his convenience the different function (PW or Colour Doppler, TM, 3D and measures) using a conventional PC keyboard. At last he captured images or video directly on his computer. Results: The system was successfully tested through terrestrial and satellite network on 100 patients with abdominal, vascular and small parts pathologies and pregnancies in small medical centre away from the university hospital. The right diagnostic was found in 90% of the cases. Conclusion: The ergonomy of the tele-operated echograph and probe unit was found particularly well adapted for investigating patient in isolated places was no sonographer was available. It is now schedule to be used for investigating human in extreme environment like space or hostile and restricted places.