Fetal telemedicine: interactive transfer of realtime ultrasound and video via ISDN for remote consultation

J Telemed Telecare. 1995;1(1):38-44. doi: 10.1177/1357633X9500100108.


Current referral practice for ultrasonically detected fetal abnormalities contributes to parental anxiety, inconvenience to patients, diagnostic inaccuracy, and general service inefficiency. To determine whether telemedicine would reduce these disadvantages, we established a 30-channel ISDN link between a district general hospital on an island and a subspecialty referral centre approximately 120 km away on mainland Britain. Live ultrasound images of the fetus were transmitted in realtime from a commercial scanner in the hospital using a total data transfer rate of 2 Mbit/s. After decompression at the receiving end, there was almost no perceptible loss of picture quality or frame rate. This report describes the technical aspects of the link and our preliminary experience with it. In the first two months of its operation, the link worked well and the consultants who used it found themselves confidently making diagnoses and carrying out counselling over it. If confirmed, the success of this technology has implications for future referral practice in fetal medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Congenital Abnormalities / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Remote Consultation / instrumentation
  • Remote Consultation / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*
  • United Kingdom
  • Video Recording