Doctor Diagnoses Own Cancer Using iPhone Ultrasound Device

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. breakthrough / ˈbreɪkˌθru / (adj) – involving a discovery that made a great impact

    The breakthrough invention will help find a cure for cancer.

  2. set (one’s) sights on / sɛt saɪts ɒn / (idiom) – to focus on achieving a goal

    The company is setting its sights on a new medical innovation.

  3. precise / prɪˈsaɪs / (adj) – showing exactness

    I trust the device because it gives precise results.

  4. roll out / ˈroʊlˌaʊt / (phrasal) – to make a product or service available for the first time

    The company is expecting big returns once the product rolls out in the Asian market.

  5. versatile / ˈvɜr sə tl / (adj) – having several uses

    The versatile device can be used by everyone, including children and adults.


Read the text below.

A surgeon learned about his cancer after scanning his throat using an iPhone-connected ultrasound machine.

After experiencing throat discomfort, Dr. John Martin examined his condition by conducting a trial on a portable ultrasound device called Butterfly iQ. Examination results showed evidence of squamous  /ˈskweɪ məs / cell cancer, a type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body.

Developed by startup medical device manufacturer Butterfly Network, Butterfly iQ is reported to be the first compact ultrasound device introduced to the American market. The device can be used by plugging it into an iPhone and running it along a certain body part. The breakthrough technology then instantly produces ultrasound images that can be viewed on the iPhone’s screen.

According to Butterfly Network founder Jonathan Rothberg, he wanted to develop a kind of technology that would speed up medical diagnosis. The company is also setting its sights on a software that can aid new users in positioning the device, gathering precise images, and interpreting them.

The product will be sold early next year for $1,999 – the cheapest price for portable ultrasounds in the market. Once the device rolls out, it will compete with other portable devices like Philips’ Lumify and General Electric’s Vscan products, which both sell for over $5,000. Unlike these competitors, which employ old crystal technology, Butterfly iQ will use a silicon chip. This makes the product more affordable and versatile.

Rothberg and Dr. Martin hope that the device can help patients with diabetes and lung problems, as well as other high-risk patients who could benefit from immediate ultrasound results.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How accurate do you think Butterfly iQ is in producing results?
• What other features should the Butterfly iQ have to ensure accurate results? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What are the possible risks of relying on technology alone when addressing health concerns?
• In what ways is it more practical to rely on technology than seek traditional medical treatment?