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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1996 Nov;103(11):1092-5.

Fetal telemedicine: six month pilot of real-time ultrasound and video consultation between the Isle of Wight and London.

Author information

1
Centre for Fetal Care, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital, London, UK.

Abstract

DESIGN:

Prospective audit of first six months.

SETTING:

Referral from a district general hospital on the Isle of Wight to a comprehensive tertiary referral service, the Centre for Fetal Care at Queen Charlotte's Hospital 120 km away in London.

PARTICIPANTS:

Women whose pregnancy was suspected, or at risk, of fetal abnormality.

INTERVENTIONS:

Remote consultation by transmitting ultrasound and video in real-time over ISDN 30 telephone lines. Contemporaneous questionnaire to referring practitioner and patient.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Frequency, indication, technical success and duration of consultation. Qualitative and semi-quantitative image quality. Effect of teleconsultation on need for physical referral.

RESULTS:

Twenty-nine women underwent 39 teleconsultations, and image quality was sufficient for diagnosis in all but one. Fetal abnormalities were present in 76%. Referral in person was required for only four women, significantly fewer than the 13 the referring hospital indicated would have been physically referred in the absence of this service (P < 0.001). Most mothers were counselled by the specialist "face-to-face' over the link, and 80% felt teleconsultation reduced their anxiety.

CONCLUSIONS:

A fetal telemedicine service is technically and clinically feasible. This demonstration suggests that such a service reduces the need for physical referral while increasing the rate of consultation, allowing better selection of patients who might benefit from referral. Further evaluation in a variety of clinical settings is now indicated, along with cost-benefit analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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