Author: Maggie O’Neill for

Dr John Martin diagnosed his own stage four cancer last summer – using only his iPhone.

The 59-year-old doctor is a vascular surgeon and the chief medical officer at Butterfly Network, a company that has invented a handheld ultrasound machine that can connect to an iPhone called the Butterfly iQ. While the product was being tested for FDA clearance in July, Dr Martin decided to scan his own neck using the device because he felt a mass in his throat.

The results that popped up on his phone screen revealed he had metastatic cancer. It had started in his tongue and throat and spread to his neck. After surgery, it was downgraded to stage three and now, coming to the end of six weeks of radiation, doctors say he looks set to be cured.

Dr Martin used a device called the Butterfly iQ, which can connect to an iPhone, to perform an ultrasound.

Dr Martin said that the opportunity to try the technology on himself arose when the product was being tested in Denver, Colorado, earlier this year.

‘I noticed this mass in my neck,’ he said. He tested himself by performing an ultrasound with the Butterfly iQ and looking at the instant results on his iPhone.

‘I realized I was holding the diagnostic study I needed in my hand,’ he said.

Dr Martin, who has been a physician for 40 years, said he suspected the results were not good, but he consulted with a nearby technician to make sure that was the case.

‘I walked across to a technician, and we looked at each other, and I flew home the next morning.’ But the first thing he thought when he saw the image was that he was thankful his team had invented the ultrasound technology.

‘There’s a million things that go through your mind,’ Dr Martin said. But one unexpected thought he had when he realized he had cancer was: ‘I’m glad I’ve got this picture.’

Butterfly Network founder Jonathan Rothberg said that the speed of his employee’s diagnosis was the goal he had in mind when designing the iQ technology.

The revolutionary aspect of the Butterfly iQ is that the results of an ultrasound appear immediately on an iPhone screen. The product will be used in clinical trials in 2018, and during the studies doctors will send the devices home with high-risk patients who could benefit from an immediate ultrasound.

Rothberg and Dr Martin said that their technology could help patients with diabetes, lung problems and other ailments.

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