Telemedicine Through the Use of Digital Cell Phone Technology in Pediatric Neurosurgery: A Case Series

Neurosurgery. 66(5):999-1004, May 2010. DOI: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000368443.43565.2A

Advances in medicine have largely followed advances in technology. Medical strides have been made when physicians and researchers have adapted growing science to target specific problems. A new medical field, telemedicine, has emerged that links physicians with colleagues and patients. Cell phone technology is affordable for almost everyone, and basic models include digital photography.

OBJECTIVE: We present a case series exhibiting the utility of digital pictures taken with patients’ cell phones.

CLINICAL PRESENTATION: Our patients had wound infections requiring daily intravenous antibiotics and dressing changes. Previously, these patients would have required prolonged hospitalizations. Currently, patients with these infections are discharged from the hospital, but close outpatient observation is required to monitor the wound. Our patients lived up to 8 hours away from the hospital. Daily appointments for wound checks in the clinic were impractical. Wounds were monitored via cell phone images without the inconvenience of travel and the expense of a local hotel, and unnecessary appointments in the clinic.

INTERVENTION: Wound evaluations were conducted with the patients’ cell phone cameras. These images were transmitted to the surgeon by text messaging and emails.

CONCLUSION: This application of cell phone technology has been documented in other literature and could become a legitimate method for close outpatient observation by neurosurgeons if medicolegal issues are addressed.

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