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Cell Phones Cameras Put Doctors in the Picture

Leg wound photos help experts treat from a distance

MONDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDayNews)-- Dialing for a diagnosis, doctors in Switzerland say cell phone photos of leg ulcers usually provide enough information to assess and treat most patients, saving those patients the trouble and cost of transport to the clinic.

"We were able to show for the first time that telemedicine for chronic wounds is feasible under routine conditions using this new generation of mobile telephones and direct transfer via e-mail," the researchers report in the February issue of Archives of Dermatology.

A team of doctors led by Dr. Ralph Peter Braun, of the University Hospital of Geneva, compared face-to-face evaluation of chronic leg ulcers in 52 patients with remote evaluations done from cell phone photos.

A doctor conducted each of the face-to-face evaluations. He then snapped two, normal-light images of each leg ulcer with a standard camera cell phone and transmitted them by e-mail to two consulting physicians.

The consulting physicians felt that in four out of every five cases, the picture quality was good enough to make a diagnosis.

Their remote analysis also compared well with the diagnosis performed by the doctor present in the room, they found.

Besides sparing patients unnecessary travel and discomfort, use of e-mailed photos could save healthcare dollars.

"A high percentage of the problems related to leg ulcers could be solved with this type of teleconsultation," the researchers wrote. "The transport of the patient to the hospital or the physician's office could be replaced, and this approach could potentially save the health care system money."

More information

For more on telemedicine, head to the University of Iowa.

SOURCES: Archives of Dermatology, Feb. 21, 2005
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