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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.

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



Prospective audit of first six months.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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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