HMP Research Station Telemedicine Report Provided by the Canadian Space Agency Canadian Astronaut Office (CAO) July 22, 2005

Status Report From: Haughton-Mars Project (HMP)
Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2005


Today, Dr Jean-Marc Comtois, Director of Operational Space Medicine and Flight Surgeon at the Canadian Space Agency and Dr John Ferris, a trauma physician from the United Kingdom, performed a medical simulation from the Haughton Mars Project camp on Devon Island in the Canadian Artic. The simulation involved a patient who suffered a simulated abdominal blunt trauma and the tele-consultation services of North Network of Toronto.

NORTH Network is a membership-based program of Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre (SWCHSC) in Toronto and is Canada's busiest telemedicine program. The NORTH Network telemedicine uses live, two-way videoconferencing technologies and electronic medical instruments to diagnose and treat patients, enabling rural citizens to ‘visit’ a specialist in their own community, without having to travel long distances to receive specialized health care.

Using live, two-way videoconferencing through a satellite link between Devon Island and the Communications Research Center (CRC) in Ottawa, then ground-based communication between CRC and Sunnybrook Hospital, Drs Comtois and Ferris consulted with Dr Brenneman, a trauma surgeon from Sunnybrook Hospital.

After presenting the clinical history and the physical findings to Dr Brenneman, it was decided to perform a FAST exam (Focused Assessment with Ultrasonography) under the guidance and mentoring of Dr Brenneman. The FAST exam is an ultrasound exam used to rule out free fluid in the abdomen, an indicator of intra-abdominal injury requiring a surgical intervention. It is important to realize that neither Drs Comtois nor Ferris had much experience performing ultrasound examinations. Dr Brenneman therefore guided the Devon Island physicians in the performance of the FAST exam, from the placement of the ultrasound probe to the identification of anatomical structures visualized.

After the FAST exam was performed, it was determined that no free fluid was present and that the simulated injured patient could be kept at the HMP base camp for close observation instead of opting for immediate medical evacuation.

This technology demonstration was considered a success and proved that current technology and expertise would allow real-time telemedicine support at the HMP camp on Devon Island.

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