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Surgeon detects his own cancer with iPhone ultrasound device

An upcoming iPhone-based medical device seems to have proven its usefulness ten-fold when a US vascular surgeon discovered cancer in his own neck while testing it. Earlier this year, Dr. John Martin was using a new portable ultrasound device called the Butterfly iQ, a scanner the size of an electric razor that can display black-and-white imagery of the body on a paired iPhone, and ended up finding a cancerous mass after noticing discomfort in his throat.

While Martin is not a cancer specialist, he knew enough to recognize that the dark mass he saw shouldn’t be there, he told the MIT Technology Review. He went on to undergo surgery and radiation treatment for the cancer, but his experience with the Butterfly iQ is a near perfect example of the type of situation it’s designed to excel in.

The ultrasound device comes from a startup called Butterfly Network, and is due to go on sale in the US in 2018. Priced at $2,000, the Butterfly iQ is a bargain compared to standard ultrasound machines, which are both large and very expensive. The handheld device is designed to be used in emergency situations, like in an ambulance, or at home, to help diagnose a child’s injury, for example.

“To look at this as just an ultrasound device is like looking at an iPhone and saying it’s just a phone,” Martin said of the Butterfly iQ. “If you have a window into the body where anyone can afford it, everyone can use it, and everyone can interpret it, it becomes a heck of a lot more than an ultrasound device.”

SOURCE MIT Technology Review