Mobile phone based clinical microscopy for global health applications

David N. Breslauer, Robi N. Maamari, Neil A. Switz, Wilbur A. Lam, Daniel A. Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

478 Scopus citations

Abstract

Light microscopy provides a simple, cost-effective, and vital method for the diagnosis and screening of hematologic and infectious diseases. In many regions of the world, however, the required equipment is either unavailable or insufficiently portable, and operators may not possess adequate training to make full use of the images obtained. Counterintuitively, these same regions are often well served by mobile phone networks, suggesting the possibility of leveraging portable, camera-enabled mobile phones for diagnostic imaging and telemedicine. Toward this end we have built a mobile phone-mounted light microscope and demonstrated its potential for clinical use by imaging P. falciparum-infected and sickle red blood cells in brightfield and M. tuberculosis-infected sputum samples in fluorescence with LED excitation. In all cases resolution exceeded that necessary to detect blood cell and microorganism morphology, and with the tuberculosis samples we took further advantage of the digitized images to demonstrate automated bacillus counting via image analysis software. We expect such a telemedicine system for global healthcare via mobile phone - offering inexpensive brightfield and fluorescence microscopy integrated with automated image analysis - to provide an important tool for disease diagnosis and screening, particularly in the developing world and rural areas where laboratory facilities are scarce but mobile phone infrastructure is extensive.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6320
JournalPloS one
Volume4
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 22 2009

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