The U.S. and Canadian space agencies have selected devicemaker SonoSite's MicroMaxx handheld ultrasound for testing during a joint 18-day space flight simulation underwater, the company announced.
The MicroMaxx system, the firm's third-generation ultrasound product, will be used to demonstrate that telementoring can successfully treat musculoskeletal injury during simulated space flight conditions, SonoSite said.
The test will be conducted during an 18-day experiment on the ninth mission of NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, (NEEMO 9), which will take place in April 2006 near Key Largo, Fla. The habitat, called Aquarius, is analogous to a habitat that could house astronauts on the Earth's moon, SonoSite said. Other ultrasound devices made by SonoSite have been used on previous NEEMO missions.
Scientists participating in the simulation will use the notebook-sized MicroMaxx system to perform a diagnostic ultrasound of an injured knee prosthetic at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. After viewing the images, a group of surgeons and radiologists will remotely diagnose the injury and direct the aquanauts to deliver the appropriate treatment, either a simulated arthroscopy of the knee or an external fixation for dislocation.
The MicroMaxx ultrasound system, which weighs 3.5 kg, creates an image quality comparable to large, cart-based systems, the firm said. "On NEEMO 7 in 2004, our hand-carried Titan system performed excellently when it was used to evaluate the abdomen for gallstones, kidney stones, and blunt trauma to the chest," said Drew D'Aguilar, general manager of SonoSite Canada.
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