Health | Did You Know

Doctor Discovers His Own Cancer Using His iPhone

Independant / Butterfly Network

A doctor diagnosed himself with stage four cancer using only his iPhone.

Last summer, vascular surgeon Dr. John Martin felt irritation in his throat and decided to investigate the root of his discomfort. He used the Butterfly iQ - a pocket-sized ultrasound device - created by the Butterfly Network, where he is the the chief medical officer.

After the revelation of a tumor, Dr. Martin consulted with a fellow specialist to confirm his cancer results, Daily Mail reports.

"I walked across to a technician, and we looked at each other, and I flew home the next morning," he said.

While anxious over his diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma - a type of skin cancer - Dr. Martin said he was thankful for his company's portable ultrasound device.

"There's a million things that go through your mind," Dr. Martin said. "But one unexpected thought he had when he realized he had cancer was, I'm glad I've got this picture."

While the Butterfly Network said the device can only be purchased by a licensed medical profession, the vascular surgeon said the rapid speed of the machine can help expedite a quicker diagnosis.

"The sooner diagnoses could be made in other cancer patients, the sooner treatment could start," he said. “The secret behind our device, is that we’re conquering time. We’ve not invented an ultrasound machine, we’ve invented a time machine."

Butterfly Network founder Jonathan Rothberg agreed with Dr. Martin, adding the it could have taken up to two months to get other imaging results back.

"Those [saved] two months hopefully will make all of us a lot happier," Rothberg said.

The device is also significantly inexpensive compared to the average ultrasound systems, making it more appealing to hospitals.

The Butterfly iQ will sold for $2,000 compared to the traditional machines ranging from $25,000 to $115,000.

“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,” Dr. Martin said.

Gears of Biz noted as the ultrasound machine is made in a semiconductor manufacturing plant, resulting in a more flexible device. The device "uses capacitive micro-machined ultrasound transducers (CMUTs), which are very small ultrasonic emitters placed on a semiconductor chip."

The Butterfly iQ is the first iPhone-enabled ultrasound device to receive FDA approval, which covers 13 clinical applications and is scheduled to be shipped out in early 2018.

While this technology will quicken the wait times for a diagnosis, Dr. Martin said it should not be used as a replacement for trained healthcare professionals.

“When I diagnosed my cancer, I didn’t fire my doctor. I went to see my doctor,” Dr. Martin said. “I don’t think this is a tool to fire your doctor. I think this is a tool to enable you to come to your doctor with better information to make care more efficient and improve the quality and the outcome of care.”

Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com