UAE to soon get world's first AI-driven portable 3D breast ultrasound scanner

While manual probing can take up to 15-20 minutes in a traditional set up, scanning with the new device takes only about one minute per side

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Akram Bouchenaki (L), Maryam Ziaei (C) and Shadi Saberi at Arab Health 2023 in Dubai. Photo: Nandini Sircar
Akram Bouchenaki (L), Maryam Ziaei (C) and Shadi Saberi at Arab Health 2023 in Dubai. Photo: Nandini Sircar

Nandini Sircar

Published: Tue 31 Jan 2023, 7:43 PM

Last updated: Tue 31 Jan 2023, 8:24 PM

A new convenient, portable machine that can be used for whole-breast ultrasounds and would aid breast cancer diagnosis is showcased at the ongoing Arab Health 2023 in Dubai.

Though mammograms are considered the 'standard' for breast cancer diagnosis, this soon-to-be-launched device is looking to transform breast care using automated imaging and artificial intelligence (AI) that can yield results much faster.

Ultrasounds are believed to provide a more accurate image of the breast tissue in younger women and persons with denser tissue. Additionally, the device promises to offer a cost-effective, radiation-free substitute to mammography.

San Francisco-based iSono Health has partnered with Middle East based Abdul Latif Jameel Health to become the exclusive distributor of iSono Health’s ATUSA scanner in the Global South, making it available to hundreds of millions of women in an initial 31 countries covering the Middle East and North Africa, Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Maryam Ziaei, Founder and CEO, iSono Health, said, “We have been able to develop a scanner which takes two minutes to scan and makes breast imaging painless and convenient. This new partnership is a significant milestone in our history and an important step forward in making our ATUSA scanner accessible to millions more women across the world. The implication is that we can expand access to breast imaging to women everywhere. That’s because the system is small and portable, and it can be deployed in any setting; a nurse and medical assistant, midwife or community health workers can get trained to do the imaging without any prior knowledge of ultrasound."

While the manual probing can take up to 15-20 minutes in a traditional set up, scanning the entire breast volume with this device takes only about one minute per side.

The wearable Atusa system that looks like a cone bra is available in four different sizes from small to extra-large.

She adds, "You just need one person to just help the patient put on the wearable. Then the patient lies back. Once the scanner is locked in place, the operator doesn't touch the patient at all. It moves on its own, automatically, like a robotic miniature robotic ultrasound. Then the images are captured at each angle. We remove that transducer or the ultrasound radially and then create a 3D view of the whole breast. So, the physician with access to more information can make better decisions. The system is designed to integrate with machine learning models, which can help improve clinical decisions in the future."

The innovation hopes to penetrate different markets where healthcare access to big hospitals may be a challenge for the general population living in small villages or towns.

The founders of this device reiterate with a revolutionary device like this, breast cancer diagnoses can become more accessible.

According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the world's most prevalent cancer; one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

"It has a wireless charger. So, the device is battery-operated. The data is transferred with a USB cable to a laptop, but then during damage acquisition, you don't need the internet or Wi-Fi connectivity. That was one of the design requirements because it was designed from the ground up to be something that can be deployed globally in a setting that doesn't have a lot of resources. Eventually, the data can be transferred to the cloud," Ziaei adds.


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