Evaluation of tele-ultrasound as a tool in remote diagnosis and clinical management at the Amundsen-Scott south pole station and the McMurdo research station

Christian Otto, Ron Shemenski, Jessica M. Scott, Jeanette Hartshorn, Sheryl Bishop, Steven Viegas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: A large number of Antarctic stations do not utilize ultrasound for medical care. Regular use of ultrasound imaging at South Pole and McMurdo Stations first began in October 2002. To date, there has been no evaluation of medical events requiring ultrasound examination from this remote environment. Additionally, the importance of tele-ultrasound for clinical management in Antarctica has not yet been assessed. We therefore conducted a retrospective analysis of all ultrasound exams performed at South Pole and McMurdo Stations between October 2002 and October 2003. Subjects and Methods: Radiology reports and patient charts were reviewed for pre- and post-ultrasound diagnosis and treatment. Results: Sixty-six ultrasound exams were conducted on 49 patients. Of the exams, 94.0% were interpreted by the store-and-forward method, whereas 6.0% were interpreted in "real-time" format. Abdominal, genitourinary, and gynecology ultrasound exams accounted for 63.6% of exams. Ultrasound examination prevented an intercontinental aeromedical evacuation in 25.8% of cases, and had a significant effect on the diagnosis and management of illness in patients at South Pole and McMurdo research stations. Conclusions: These findings indicate that diagnostic ultrasound has significant benefits for medical care at Antarctic stations and that tele-ultrasound is a valuable addition to remote medical care for isolated populations with limited access to tertiary-healthcare facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-191
Number of pages6
JournalTelemedicine and e-Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013



  • technology
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management

Cite this