Tucson tech company helps doctors see the coronavirus

VistaScan is an app that works with an ultrasound probe plugged into a smartphone. The image...
VistaScan is an app that works with an ultrasound probe plugged into a smartphone. The image can help show doctors what the coronavirus looks like inside a patient's lungs as alternative to an X-ray.(Source: VistaScan)
Updated: May. 5, 2020 at 7:48 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - When you’re working with a new virus like COVID-19, you have to think of unique ways to attack it.

“It’s a feeling of we’re going to lose,” said Dr. Jerry Koleski, assistant professor of family medicine at Banner University Medical Center. "You walk into work and you just think who’s going to die today?”

It’s clear COVID-19 doesn’t fight fair, leaving Koleski to search for ways to have a stronger defense — one in the form of a new device that happened to be based in Tucson.

“As it came up with the timing and everything, he was actually able to deploy this in the COVID wing here at Banner,” said Courtney Williams, co-founder and CEO of Emagine Solutions Technology.

Williams originally came up with the idea for the device, called VistaScan, after her sister experienced a high-risk pregnancy and was bedridden for months.

Her sister and baby are healthy today, but Williams knew not everyone is as fortunate — especially those who live in rural areas. So she alongside Jose Juarez created VistaScan to help patients and clinicians in low resource settings to try to understand patient maladies without ultrasound available as a lifesaving diagnostic tool.

VistaScan is an app that works with an ultrasound probe plugged into the phone. Williams said right now the app isn’t available on IOS devices.

“You plug in an ultrasound probe and then you can just start scanning," Williams said.

Now, Koleski is giving it a new purpose.

“I had an idea and that was can we tell what’s going to happen by doing an ultrasound of the lungs?” Koleski said.

He’s started using it on several COVID-19 patients as an alternative to X-rays and take a closer look at the lungs.

"The more fluid, the worse the disease, the worse the disease the worse chance they’re going to get better,” he said.

This is a healthy lung of a patient who tested negative for the coronavirus. 
The photo shows...
This is a healthy lung of a patient who tested negative for the coronavirus. The photo shows not much where the other lung showed a thick line of white. the black space then with a couple of short horizontal lines show normal lungs.(Source: Courtesy of Dr. Koleski and VistaScan for the pictures)
This is the lung of a COVID-19 patient. The patient died shortly after this ultrasound was...
This is the lung of a COVID-19 patient. The patient died shortly after this ultrasound was done. He asked not to be placed on a ventilator or resuscitated. The middle white line that goes from top to bottom is the lung with fluid in it from the coronavirus and the body's immune system response to the virus.(Source: Courtesy of Dr. Koleski and VistaScan for the pictures)

They’re still in the preliminary study but are hopeful it will ane day have widespread reach.

It’s a way to gain some ground and continue to fight for those in their care.

“It doesn’t reflect on them as a doctor that the disease is stronger than they are,” Koleski said.

The reach of the VistaScan is going beyond hospitals. Williams and Emagine Solutions are also using the ultrasound tool in a research study with the Green Valley Fire Department.

For more on VistaScan click here.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.