Vascular Surgeon John Martin recently became the chief medical officer of a startup called Butterfly Network out of Connecticut. When he was testing its Butterfly IQ pocket-sized ultrasound device, he decided to run it across his throat, where he had been feeling unusual “thick” sensations.
When he saw a small dark mass, “I was enough of a doctor to know I was in trouble,” Martins says. The mass was squamous-cell cancer, for which he has now undergone surgery and radiation treatment. Waiting for his own biopsy results and therapy helped him to realize how important expedient diagnoses are for patients.
Traditional sonograms use the sound waves created by a vibrating crystal and their echoes to create images. The Butterfly IQ uses thousands of tiny drums etched onto a semiconductor chip. This makes it much cheaper to produce – they sell for about $2,000 and will ship in 2018. John Kendall, an ultrasound specialist and Butterfly IQ adviser, conveys that while the images are not as detailed as traditional sonograms, the convenience and cost make the device competitive and useful.