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Biotech Hardware

Vietnam Medic Makes Homemade Endoscope 430

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the do-it-yourself dept.
Davian writes "As reported by the BBC a Vietnamese doctor has managed to create an endoscope using an apparatus consisting of lenses and a webcam, linked to a Pentium 4. Total cost of extra hardware - less than $1000." The doctor plans to also assist other local hospitals that are facing similar budgetary contraints.
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Vietnam Medic Makes Homemade Endoscope

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  • Ouch (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:38AM (#13377995)
    I just hope that this webcam is a little smaller than the one sitting on top of my monitor.
  • Pah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:38AM (#13377996) Homepage Journal
    $1000? For all the good that bit of cheap kit is going to do, he might as well shove it up his arse.
    • Re:Pah... (Score:2, Funny)

      by Parelius (892100)
      I just hope he's using something more sleek than my Logitech Quickcam for his ass-probe, or there's going to be a lot of pain and suffering in Vietnam....
    • After all it is a dirty hack
    • Re:Pah... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:49AM (#13378228) Homepage
      I've got some friends in the medical industry, and it's seriously bloated financially - this is probably the same hardware that costs $100,000, but without the label on it. One company I know of who builds X-Ray machines charges $500 for a "specially formatted" floppy disk to be used with their equipment. A floppy disk!! You can make your own by simply using 'dd', but doctors are too dumb to know this. It's not just the patients who get screwed, paying $8 for an asprin - it's the entire industry. This is cool, one definite way to say "shove it up uranus", and have almost identical equipment as you would have paid otherwise.
      • Re:Pah... (Score:5, Informative)

        by mikael (484) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @07:56AM (#13378534)
        Part of the cost is caused by the need to take out insurance in case of a malpractice lawsuit, and to carry out usability and safety tests. You don't want to have to liquidate the entire company simply because some technician left his coffee cup on a floppy disk which led to the contents of the disk to be corrupted, leading to a missed diagnosis, and ultimately leading to the untimely death of an octogenarian.

        But a similar thing happened in Iraq. US Marines put together a water well inspection system out of a webcam, a torch, some rope and USB extension cables. Six months later a defence company comes out with the offical "military standard" version at around $100K per unit.
      • Re:Pah... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @08:24AM (#13378736) Journal
        A floppy disk!!

        An FDA-approved floppy disk.

        It's probably using the same format as twenty years ago, because of the cost of getting any changes to their system approved all over again by the FDA.

        -jcr

    • I don't see what all the fuss is about? What can he do with this thousand dollar bit of kit that he can't do with a hollow bit of bamboo and a torch? Sheesh, some people always do it the hard way, don't they?!
    • ... unless you don't know what an endoscope is.
  • by vidnet (580068) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:42AM (#13378006) Homepage
    "Using the Windows operating system, we have programs to record the images and put them in a database of patients."

    That's half the expense right there.

  • Ehh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by domipheus (751857) * on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:42AM (#13378007)
    This is not meant to be a flame or troll activity, but surely if they wanted to keep the costs down they would not be using windows? Seems simple enough.

    I'm also feeling quite odd about the pentium 4 ad statement there. It is connected to a computer, they can all do graphics manipulation these days. Seems we are still in the 'omgwtf pentium' age. Using another cpu would bring the price down yet further!

    • Re:Ehh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 4nd3r5 (732488) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:48AM (#13378021) Journal
      RTFA.. in the beginning he had problems installing programs on the PC, and he had to ask a guy for help... don't you think that it would hinder progress of his project if he had to use linux, and find another guy to help him... im not to sure there are to many tech savy people hanging around a region in vietnam, where they can't afford a 30 k endoscope.

      off topic.. sort of...

      i know a guy who has an endoscope in his attick, thats not beeing used.. isn't this world nice and unfair..
    • Re:Ehh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by torpor (458) <{ibisum} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:49AM (#13378025) Homepage Journal
      read the article. the only thing they 'bought' was the scope itself, which cost $800 .. i'm sure you can read between the lines on that one.
    • A 100 US$ Windows license is not the main cost-reducing factor in getting a 30.000 US$ system down to $1.000 US$.
    • by kjs3 (601225)
      It said he used Windows. It didn't say he bought Windows.
  • Cool stuff. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Randseed (132501) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:44AM (#13378013)
    Until Windows eats his data. (Sorry. Obligatory bullshit Windows flame.)

    No seriously, this is some cool stuff and it's a creative way to deal with the problem. I'm curious how big the webcam in question is, since the article didn't really say unless I missed it on two read-throughs. (Early in the morning, you see.) Considering that I'm about to go out and do the same thing using $100,000+ in hardware today on a couple of patients, it's really interesting because this thing probably provides pictures that are almost as good, if not just as good.

    • by B747SP (179471) <slashdot@selfabusedelephant.com> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:54AM (#13378243)
      I'm curious how big the webcam in question is, since the article didn't really say unless I missed it on two read-throughs.

      Boy, wouldn't Freud have a field day with you lot! I'm of the perception that the webcam stays 'high and dry' on top of the PC (or somewhere else close by) and doesn't go anywhere near your moth^H^H^H^Hbutt. Else why would he be tinkering with optics and buying an $800 probe?

      I'm thinking the endo probe does the dirty work so to speak, and the system of optics that he's come up with makes the other end of the probe play nicely with a common-or-garden webcam.

      Not withstanding that 'endoscopes' can be used on both 'ends', I wanna know why in the picture accompanying TFA, he appears to be shoving the endoscope down the back of the vict^H^H^H^Hpatient's kneck?!

      • Not withstanding that 'endoscopes' can be used on both 'ends', I wanna know why in the picture accompanying TFA, he appears to be shoving the endoscope down the back of the vict^H^H^H^Hpatient's kneck?!

        Looks to me like he's putting down the collar of that guys shirt as a demonstration. No use cutting somebody up just to show off your new gadget for the BBC reporters.
    • Even though TFA is not specific, I suspect the guy used an industrial bore scope http://www.titantoolsupply.com/borescopes.html [titantoolsupply.com] commonly used for inspecting the inner works of machinery, then paired it with a webcam. The camera itself never enters the body, just the small (.250-.500 inches) flexible bore scope.

      I did something similar back in the late 80s to make an inexpensive optical targeting system for digitizing PCB hole patterns (reverse engineer kind of thing).
    • I'm curious how big the webcam in question is, since the article didn't really say unless I missed it on two read-throughs. (Early in the morning, you see.)

      Remind me to only schedule my surgeries in the afternoon, please.
    • As I've stated before, most medical and scientific equipment is seriously overpriced. What you're paying for is the package all set up and ready to go, the logo on the front (which is often enough obscure anyway), and the option to have a tech from the company drive/fly out and service it for a few grand a visit.

      The vast majority of these instruments can be made (from high quality parts no less) for a small fraction of the cost. But then, of course, you have to... make them.

  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:44AM (#13378014) Homepage
    Tomorrow some american company will sue him (and this will cost them a LOT more than $30000 * number of provinces in vietnam up front).

    Gotta love this world we live in. Can't have people without money cured too, because if we do cure them, why would people with money pay for treatment ?

    Just a thought
    • That's the part I've never understanded about the US. On one hand the US is ultra-religious. But on the other hand helping the poor is totaly unamerican (socialism is baaaaaaaad). Now what I don't get is this: is the US hypocritical (a lot of talking, but noone really meaning what they say) or is this a case of a splitten personality? (radical differences in oppinion)
      This isn't meant as flamebait or anti-americanism or something. It's just strange that a society that holds on to religion in so many ways, seems to disagree with a major portion of it.
      • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:45AM (#13378214)
        That's the part I've never understanded about the US. On one hand the US is ultra-religious. But on the other hand helping the poor is totaly unamerican (socialism is baaaaaaaad). Now what I don't get is this: is the US hypocritical (a lot of talking, but noone really meaning what they say) or is this a case of a splitten personality? (radical differences in oppinion)
        This isn't meant as flamebait or anti-americanism or something. It's just strange that a society that holds on to religion in so many ways, seems to disagree with a major portion of it.


        Part of that is probably the roots of America's predominant religion - US Christianity stems from Puritan and other sects where being poor wasn't a sin but sloth was - hard work was a virtue (which fit in nicely with what was needed to survive in a foreign land)and neighbors helped each other through hard times when luck, not sloth, caused someone to fall onto hard times. Coupled with America's belief that you can triumph through hard work provides an American view of charity - help people get on their feet but don't let them stay on the dole forever - hence work fare vs welfare.

        Americans and America are generally generous people - in the context of how they view charity, which is to say not better or worse, but different.

        As a side note - America's disdain for socialism is rooted in the innate distrust of government and a belief in the "American Dream." American's don't like taxes (ask the English about that)so establishing a broad social net funded by high tax rates is very unlikely.
        • As a side note - America's disdain for socialism is rooted in the innate distrust of government and a belief in the "American Dream."

          However, the majority of the populace will happily bend over and take it from a government with hugely broadened powers in the name of "the War on Terrorism" or whatever they've decided to call it these days. Omnipotent giant goat with 37 eyes forbid that we help some lazy orphans though.

          I consider myself a patriot at least as far as my interpretation of the ideals of this cou
        • Americans and America are generally generous people.

          I'm not so sure about that. Americans are generally misled about how generous America and Americans are.
          Gross Aid [nationmaster.com] suggests that America is 2nd in the ranks of charitable countries (though this is 1997, the spend on war in Iraq has put strains on spend in many areas).

          Charitable Nations [slashdot.org] shows how generous america is "per person"
        • Charitable Nations [nationmaster.com]

          The poster noted that Americans AND America are generous, however this is a widely held belief by Americans which does not fully hold up.

          Not trying to offend people, but it can get a bit... trying to be told how generous America is (being Irish, we do quite well).
        • by Epistax (544591) <epistax AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @08:29AM (#13378778) Journal
          As a side note - America's disdain for socialism is rooted in the innate distrust of government and a belief in the "American Dream." Americans don't like taxes (ask the English about that)so establishing a broad social net funded by high tax rates is very unlikely.

          I'm going to call a bit of good ol' ignorance on this point (not on the poster but on the Americans he refers to). Socialism is classless. Anyone with a government connection would be a higher class than someone without, so either there is no government, or it's ubiquitous (which is the same thing, btw). The issue really is the path that Communist State countries have taken on their way to Communism (attempted anyway: there has never been a communist country). Corrupt politicians were abundant (and still are in the same area despite Democracy) and a lack of an infrastructure couldn't support the movement. The collapse was thus blamed on the system rather than the underlying infrastructure and corruption problems, and this is still hurting us today. Now anything that even appears socialist is frowned upon due to the mis-association.

          (/wonders what America will do when it figures out its most socialist institution is insurance)
      • by matt4077 (581118) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:49AM (#13378226) Homepage
        I'm not american but german, but I've spent a lot of time in the US and believe you (and many other europeans) are misunderstanding some of the facts:

        Americans are not opposed to helping the poor on a personal level. In fact, americans spent a lot more (absolute and as % of GDP) on charity than europeans. In my experience, americans also have a culture of doing volunteer work to an extend that doesn't exist in europe. For example, I've seen a complete new school building be built by the student's parents. Some gave money, some gave machines, some did the work.

        What is different is the role of government in charity: while europeans see helping the poor mainly as a job of the state, americans do it themselves. If you look at the financial structure of shelters, soup kitchens but also museums and operas, you'll find that they are mostly financed by governments in europe, while they rely heavily on individual's contributions in the US.

        So it's nearsighted to say that Americans don't want to help the poor. They simply don't want the government involved, want to do it on their own terms and want it to be seen as what it is, namely charity, and not as some god-given right of other people over one's own money.

        Now, this doesn't mean there aren't some seriously crack-smocking right-wing jesus-nuts whose actions and words don't match. But that's another story.

        • [Americans] simply don't want the government involved, want to do it on their own terms and want it to be seen as what it is, namely charity ...

          I disagree with this. In the case of unemployment benefits, there is no charity involved because they are part of an overall system that enables businesses to be more flexible in their hiring and firing.
          Rightly, there are government regulations on how businesses may treat their employees, and in my view it is equally correct that as part of that deal people are enti
      • As an observation, there seems to be a lot of support for faith based aid organisations at the moment in the US. The theory seems to be that your church can ensure that only the deserving receive the assistance.

        As a non church member, I don't know how effective this is in practise.

        • I think it's more of the church being the predominant social structure for so long.

          The theory is that most churches already have a well-functioning charity program, that could be enhanced through extra funding.

          Not that I want my government funding faith-based charities, but that's the basic principal.

          And if you talk to most Christians out there, they do not believe that charitable works should only benefit the "deserving."
      • Using the government to do so isn't and that is a very big distinction that must be understood. Americans as a whole are some of the most generous people on the planet when you look at voluntary donations. Go look up the amount of wealth that flows out of the US. Americans have no qualms about giving money, they just don't want to be forced to do so.

        Look at is this way, if your government gives money on your behalf how can you claim to be generous yourself when the decision wasn't your own? You can't.
        • Yet despite all the charity, the US as a whole still gives less as a percentage of GDP than most other industrialised nations.

          And while the governments decisions to give isn't directly tracable back to the individual voter, there is certainly a causal relationship there. If voters were so worried about their money being given to worthy causes abroad they'd have voted the governments that does so out of office.

          Yet in the US we see the opposite - supporting increases in foreign aid is a good way of losing

      • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m ail.com> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @07:18AM (#13378351) Homepage
        If you equate Charity with Socialism, then I can understand how you are confused. Perhaps explaining the difference will clear things up for you.

        Charity - voluntary giving
        Socialism - compelled confiscation
      • That's the part I've never understanded about the US. On one hand the US is ultra-religious. But on the other hand helping the poor is totaly unamerican (socialism is baaaaaaaad).

        With 295 million people, there's bound to be a difference of opinion on any topic. The last presidential election was split 51%/49%. That should tell you something.
      • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @08:29AM (#13378775) Journal
        But on the other hand helping the poor is totaly unamerican (socialism is baaaaaaaad).

        Helping the poor is fine. Looting the middle class for the ostensible purpose of helping the poor is not.

        -jcr

    • Gotta love this world we live in. Can't have people without money cured too, because if we do cure them, why would people with money pay for treatment ?

      Did it not occur to you that maybe all this fancy medical treatment costs a lot of money? There's no shadowy Dr. Claw behind the scenes, wringing his hands while he thinks up plots to keep poor people away from medical treatment.

      Medical treatment is expensive. Poor people don't have much money. That's it.
  • by torpor (458) <{ibisum} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:46AM (#13378017) Homepage Journal
    truth be told, that $30k price-tag is mostly profit for the med-co's currently stiffing american hospitals out of cheap, quality, medical equipment.

    in vietnam they have no such compunction. they don't mind building things which work, for cheap, and not screwing their customers for every last penny they can ..

    i say, great. american medical 'prowess' is propped up by insanely disproportionate profits. i daresay a few public hospitals in detroit could stand to DIY the ol' endoscope too, and save a few bucks for those AIDS drugs they've gotta stock up on in order to be 'qualified' for "Federal Support".

    sheesh. no big surprise that things are cheaper outside of the worlds largest continent full of greedy, selfish pigs ..
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:11AM (#13378107)
      truth be told, that $30k price-tag is mostly profit for the med-co's currently stiffing american hospitals out of cheap, quality, medical equipment.

      I work for an American MRI manufacturer, testing magnets that are sold to hospitals for around $1,000,000 a pop.

      The magnets are labelled "Made in USA" but are in fact only assembled here, using components from China, Mexico, and Burma... very very cheap components. All told, it costs the company less than $10,000 in materials, and around $200,000 in labor and energy to assemble and test each magnet, including liquid helium costs. The FDA would kick up a shitstorm if they knew what we were putting in these supposedly "top quality" devices. But so far, we've only sent in special runs of our systems using premium components for their evaluation.

      Of course, these magnets are barely passing their tests. Some aren't, but we are expected to pass them regardless so our revenue stream keeps flowing in the right direction.

      It should be obvious why I'm posting as an Anonymous Coward. Now you hopefully have an even clearer picture of what the healthcare business is all about. (Hint: It rhymes with funny, but isn't.)
    • I've noticed a certain mentality in the US: It is everyone's right (or is that duty?) to sue the heck out of everyone else.
      Perhaps these medical companies selling their expensive equipment are only compensating for the cost of equipment failure? An endoscope that loses an o-ring in a patient might cost the company half a million in "Digestive discomfort compensation"...
      Just a thought...
  • by maharg (182366) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:47AM (#13378020) Homepage Journal
    nurse ! pass the duct tape !
  • by Riddleshome (702246) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:49AM (#13378022)
    This would have be REALLY useful when I networked the house - there were a couple of snags that if I could have seen round the bend... Ah well, what's wrong with a few more holes in the walls...
  • by Qem (889694) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:50AM (#13378035)
    A couple of people have pointed out that not using windows would probably make it cheaper. Don't forget the guy isn't a computer expert. Its probably all that he already knows how to use. I think that the steps used here could be important for helping to lower the medical expenses in other countries. Its probably possible to make the equipment cheaper etc, but don't forget that its no use using a different system - if you don't know how to use it, or don't know the difference between different companies. Personally I'm wondering how effective the equipment is, its probably better than nothing, but how much can it detect, how invasive is it in comparison and when would it likely to be used.
  • Sweet Jesus (Score:5, Funny)

    by CleverNickedName (644160) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:51AM (#13378037) Journal
    That's one webcam link which will not be slashdotted.

    For once, the goatse trolls may well be on-topic.
  • by gotpaint32 (728082) * on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:52AM (#13378042) Journal
    The most important part of an endoscope, that being the scope still needs to be bought. Now if the guy made the actual scope and not just the webcam adapter for the scope, then that would be truly impressive. once again i feel misled by slashdot because the title suggests the guy actually built an endoscope out of a webcam. Shame on you slashdot
    • Agree with you fully - but it is mostly the bbc's fault, they are always overblowing their stories.
    • Hey, I'm still wondering why an ex-Vietnam field medic is worried about making an endoscope. Oh, he's a doctor you say, not a veteran of the Vietnam war?

      Maybe next time the submitter can change more than one word of the stories title. ("DIY" became "Homemade"). From now on can we put stories through TurnItIn [turnitin.com]?
  • Safety and health (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bibi-pov (819943) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:02AM (#13378076)
    Ok, he managed to make a cheap endoscope. That's good and bad at the same time. Because a endoscope's purpose is to be inserted inside your body, especially inside supposedly sick bodies, it has to be steril so as to avoid contamination (AIDS anyone ?). Using an expensive endoscope (like in developped countries) forbids to use it once and dispose it. So endoscope are cleaned the best one can do without damaging it and re-used. This can lead to contaminations (in fact it's a cause for blood bank to refuse your blood). That's why a cheapper endoscope could be great for developped countries (on-time usage). But on the opposite it's not so great for second/third-world contries because I doubt a webcam is designed to withstand the heat, uv, and/or chemical used to clean the expensive endoscope, nor will it be disposed after use because cheap isn't there. This could be a major health problem. So I'm somewhat skeptical on the path taken by this doctor.
    • Re:Safety and health (Score:3, Informative)

      by Scaz7 (179078)
      Read the article,

      All he purchased was the scope, the only thing he did was attach it to a webcam and a pc,

      Read outside the box and you might learn something
    • Well, thank goodness that bamboo is so plentiful, and cheap, in Vietnam. That makes 98% of the endoscope probe disposable, not unlike wooden tongue depressors. The other 2% can be disassembled and autoclaved.
  • open equipment? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by inmate (804874) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:05AM (#13378089) Homepage
    i really think there is great potential for good works here.

    a good friend who is a midwife, is going to work in rural portugual next year, and will be involved in opening a community-based birth-house. (sorry, i don't know what a geburtshaus is in english)
    but some of the equipment that they need, such as a CTG machine, cost upward of euro2500!
    i've seen this machine, and it's nothing special. but it has lots of dedicated equipment that could easily be replaced by generic computer equipment.

    this also got me wondering about creating some sort of open DIY medical equipment repository.
    seeing this article, i can well believe that a lot of people could benefit from such openly available research!

  • by cnelzie (451984) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:12AM (#13378115) Homepage
    ...his equipment is.

        It doesn't sound like he purchased finely machined parts constructed out of surgical steel and other surgery rated equipment.

      With that in mind. I am unsure if I would want to be the first person this is used on and I definately wouldn't want to be the third, fourth fifth or last person this machine is used on...
  • So Now... (Score:4, Funny)

    by dcw3 (649211) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:20AM (#13378145) Journal
    You can seriously tell someone to stick Windows up their ass! And, those that do the work can take this job and shove it.
  • by a_nonamiss (743253) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:23AM (#13378153)
    I'd put down my life savings right now that says US hospitals (even the poorest and most destitute) will continue to buy the $30,000 one.

    That's what's wrong with the US healthcare system. "Why do something cheap when we can spend even more money for something just as useful?"
    • If you had a choice between the worlds best doctor and a med student, but the med student cost less. Which would you choose to entrust your health care too?
      That's not to say there is anything wrong with this guys endoscope. But seriously if you have the choice between a 1k dollar device made by someone who admittedly had no technical training. And a 30k dollar device built and designed by professional engineers and technicians...
      Hmm doesn't seem like a very hard choice.
      Personally I'm going with to the do
  • Not very surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:31AM (#13378170)
    I'm working in the medical device business, and a large part of our expenses is for stuff like clinical studies, documentation to comply with FDA regulations and such. Also, the relatively low numbers tend to make manufacturing more expensive than for mass-manufactured stuff.

    Last but not least, the market seems to readily accept the high prices manufacturers are demanding. In fact, an ex-colleague told me a story about a surgical instrument that failed in the market because of a too low price. Doctors did not trust that "cheapshit" stuff. After a rebranding and raising of the price, the same instrument did fine in the market. Expect management to happily take advantage of such thinking.

    Overall, I'm not surprised that a professional endoscope costs 30.000, even if something almost (I suspect Dr Nguyen Phuoc Huy made a few compromises in the used materials) equivalent can be built at 1000 in materials.
    • Additional thought: medical devices do not need to be FDA approved if they are used under a physician's direct supervision. (I know a physician who has a semi-diagnostic piece of software that is sold and used under exactly this kind of exception. It's take years but his sales are quite good. Of course the software program is not nearly as invasive as this device.) Since endospcopy is practiced by MD's, this guy's device is perfectly legal and by all measures a total end-run around the major vendors.
  • by crovira (10242) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:35AM (#13378183) Homepage
    How cheaply can it be done for?

    It should be able to take images from a wide range of input (devices, resolutions, color corrections, user selectable, and NOT from a config list requiring rebooting, if you please,) feeding something like The Gimp for image manipulation, in real time.

    Guy's in Vietnam and had no support issues with M$ We can do better for cheaper.
  • by Centurix (249778) <centurix@gMONETmail.com minus painter> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:44AM (#13378211) Homepage
    I was the designer and developer of a major endoscopic image capture system here in Australia for a company who sold thousands of copies in the UK, US and parts of Asia. A lot of the difficult work at the time wasn't actually capturing the images and storing them, that was relatively easy, VfW did a lot of the work on most video capture boards, even though it didn't give you as much control over the video overlay as you really wanted. Some video cards provided MCI drivers which gave much more control, zoom, pan etc. Like the Matrox capture cards. All video endoscopic systems provided some sort of analog video output, composite, S-Video, RGB. The major systems were Olympus, Fujitsu and Pentax with a few minor players in specialty endoscopic fields.

    The hard part was actually remotely triggering the capture on the PC. We initially tried to get the specialists to tell a PC operator to press a button, but they just got frustrated with the whole procedure.

    Our next thing was to use the buttons on the scopes themselves (the flexible scopes have two dials for lateral movement and usually one or more buttons which can be assigned to various functions on each unit) so we slowly begged and borrowed one of each model of each type of scope unit so we could create interfaces to plug into them.

    Myself and a colleage researched over 100 units, measured signals, found suppliers of connectors, found manufacturers who could copy proprietary connectors (and there were about 30 different types of custom connectors in the end) and then wrote the code.

    We started using it for upper endoscopy and colonoscopies, but it was sold for ERCP's, MRI/PET/CAT scanning, rigid scope procedures and also for overhead cameras in surgery.

    It's an interesting field, I personally sat in on over 200 procedures to test the software, colonoscopies being the worst. Not great a procedure. I'm glad they give people drugs to make them forget that 15 minutes...
  • by Raindeer (104129) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:59AM (#13378266) Homepage Journal
    A Dutch F16 technician ones showed me the boroscope they were using to check the insides of the engine. He told me that a couple of weeks before a surgeon of the local hospital had been cursing when he saw the scope. The surgeon had been requesting a boroscope for three years already and couldn't get the funds allocated and here the local AFB had a couple on hand.

    • hmm yes, they could easily borrow such a boroscope from the airforce (pun intended). The oil residue will provide some extra lubrication and they can easily sterilise it by sticking it in a hot engine.
  • by havaloc (50551) * on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @07:02AM (#13378280) Homepage
    ...to Intel Inside.
  • Blame the extra cost on the FDA. Manufacturing medical equipement isn't a matter of putting white box parts in the shipping carton.

    Both the design process and the manufacturing process must be highly documented and tracable for the equipement to be allowed for sales in the US. All this red tape takes time and that costs money.

    We could be complaining about this, but when you consider that poorly performing medical equipement can harm or even kill the patient (and has in the past as in the well document
  • Does anyone else get different images from the terms "Vietnam medic" and "Vietnamese doctor"? The latter is more accurate but the headline makes me think of an army medic in the Vietnam War jumping out of helicopters and shoving webcams up soldier's bums.
    • That is exactly what I thought when I saw that. I thought it was a wartime recollection or something.
      Whoever wrote "Vietnam medic" apparently has missed some of the finer points of the English language.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @07:48AM (#13378499)

    They told him what he could do with his Pentium 4, and he took them literally.

  • covering 95% of the uses/users...

    Compared to not having an endoscope at all, this is terrific. But to pass as a "medical-grade" device in a developed country, there has to be a lot more to this apparatus and the cost will likely skyrocket.

    May still be quite low, but nothing quite as spectacular as this.

  • ...A new brance of amateur porn here.
  • Isn't it amazing what you can do when the FDA isn't driving up your costs?

    -jcr
  • How about replacing the webcam and Pentium with a cameraphone? Then the pics can be analyzed with clusters of computers on the Net, by experts anywhere in the world - at the lowest price.
  • by callipygian-showsyst (631222) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @09:18AM (#13379181) Homepage
    I've heard of people putting iPods up their rectums [google.com] but never Pentium 4 PCs! This is a whole new trend.
  • Link to audio stream (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stalky (31519) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @10:13AM (#13379652) Homepage
    The Go Digital program that this appeared in is still available on the BBC's servers. The endoscope bit starts at 17 minutes into the stream [bbc.co.uk].
  • Calling all geeks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattr (78516) <mattr@telebod[ ]om ['y.c' in gap]> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @10:51AM (#13380044) Homepage Journal
    Okay here's your project! Go!


    Seriously if you are looking for a good project to work on it can't get much better than this, or something similar. If you can get a few people together - an expert each in hardware, analog/digital, software, and domain-specific industrial knowledge there are bound to be lots of ways you can change the world. The biggest problem with people who want to do good for the third world (as far as I have experienced and been told) is that you imagine everything can be fixed with the net, have no grip on higher priorities, etc. But this is a real case of something that is needed, and some experts could even make it a better project, saving the M$ tax being the least of it. How about figuring out a way to get a freescope to every hospital in Vietname or whatever country you pick (how about Cambodia?) Maybe someone reading this in Vietname would talk to the doctor about setting up a free endoscope construction online resource, starting with buying a scope and using windows with a faq but ultimately going full blown from scratch and with ways to hook in small/medium size manufacturers.
    This person in Vietname wouldn't have to do the entire project himself (but must be responsible to getting things done, or else they won't), but can ask for help from people on slashdot and they'll tell their friends, and so on.

    I've helped a friend who created the Sihanouk hospital in Cambodia and that individual is a very resourceful retired journalist able to pull in all kinds of favors. Definitely not common. But one interesting project was telemedicine, getting links in to check with foreign hospitals for diagnosis. I also met someone who was using a pda and cheap sensors for very inexpensive testing and telemetry (Grenoble Hospital I believe, in France). The best is if you get a doctor who is also a whiz at every other necessary skill and doesn't have a lot of patients to worry about.. but as you can see it took this man 2 years and it's in his spare time. That is fine. Now can anybody else help him or people like him, who understand exactly what the need is and just need help to get it IMPLEMENTED?
    Run don't walk and find those key people. You can change the world.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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