Oct 17, 2017 | By Benedict

In collaboration with workers in Sri Lanka, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis have used an iPad-mounted infrared 3D scanner to measure limb enlargement and disfigurement in elephantiasis patients. The technique could replace older and impractical methods.

Mosquitoes have the ability to transfer all kinds of diseases, with malaria, yellow fever, Zika fever, and dengue all spread by the dangerous flies. Another (perhaps less well-known) mosquito-borne disease is lymphatic filariasis, which affects 120 million people worldwide and which can cause major swelling and deformity of the legs.

This leg swelling and deformity is known as elephantiasis, and patients who suffer from the condition need to be constantly monitored. This is because the swollen legs are caused by parasitic worms that enter the lymphatic system and prevent the lymph vessels from working properly. The condition is also referred to as lymphedema.

Usually, doctors and nurses use a measuring tape or a simple water displacement technique to measure changes in leg shape and size, but researchers at Washington University School of Medicine think they have found a better way.

Working with collaborators in Sri Lanka, scientists at the Missouri-based university have shown that a portable 3D scanning device attached to an iPad can measure limb enlargement and disfigurement faster and more easily.

This means healthcare workers can treat a larger number of people in a shorter space of time, while providing highly accurate measurements to boot.

“This is important because it will allow doctors and researchers to take very accurate limb measurements in developing nations, where there are often limited tools to monitor swollen limbs,” said senior author Philip J. Budge, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University.

A study carried out in Galle in Sri Lanka showed that the infrared 3D scanner could gather measurements of leg volume and of limb circumference at multiple points just as accurately as one could using water displacement or a tape measure.

The scanning tool, developed by Atlanta startup LymphaTech, is a simple infrared sensor that works like a Microsoft Kinect device, producing an accurate 3D reconstruction of a patient’s legs.

When Budge and Washington University colleague Ramakrishna Rao heard about LymphaTech, they formed a research group in order to test the device on 52 patients with varying stages of lymphedema at the clinic in Galle.

The study showed the 3D scanner to be a more practical option than the widely used water displacement technique.

The water displacement method involves getting patients to put their leg in a water tank, and then measuring how much water comes out. It works, but is incredibly cumbersome and impractical to use in the field, especially on multiple patients.

By using the infrared scanner, the scientists could obtain a similar level of accuracy to the water and tape measure options, but much faster. It took on average 2.2 minutes to scan both a patient’s legs, while the tape measure and water displacement methods took an average of 7.5 minutes and 17.4 minutes in turn.

“The scanning tool also offers convenience,” Budge said. “Many patients with swollen limbs often have great difficulty traveling from their homes to the clinic to have their measurements taken. The scanner should make it possible to take extremely accurate limb measurements in the patients' homes or villages, without cumbersome equipment or inconveniencing patients.”

Budge added that, to his knowledge, this was the first case of 3D scanning being used to assess patients with filarial lymphedema.

Moreover, because of the successful nature of the study, the LymphaTech device has now been incorporated into a two-year international clinical trial that Budge is taking part in. The trial will attempt to assess the suitability of the antibiotic doxycycline as a way of reducing swelling and disfigurement in patients with lymphatic filariasis.

"It worked so well that it has been added as a measurement tool [to the trial],” Budge said.

The completed study, “Portable 3-D scanner assesses patients with elephantiasis,” has been published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.



Posted in 3D Scanning



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All Things 3D wrote at 10/23/2017 8:51:24 PM:

Benedict, are you excluding the name of the 3D scanning device, or did they? (or did you just get this from the abstract?) I know of only one device that allows 3D scanning with an iOS device and that is the Occipital Structure sensor (or the now defunct 3DS iSense). It is a structured light based device like the Kinect scanner and made to work with all iOS devices since the iPad 4. As an independent developer for this device, it has found many uses from scanning feet, limbs and even faces or burn victims. I know because I have created software for these specific purposes. It should also be note the iPhone X will have similar, but much smaller version of this sensor, since the same company PrimeSense designed it while under ownership of Apple (since 2014). It should be pointed out that they sensor will definitely not have the range or focal length of the Structure Sensor due to its smaller size, and since it is front facing instead of back facing, it does really make itself useful for anything besides scanning faces unless... tune in a couple of months, I will have announcement. :) Mike Balzer

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