When Dr. Kyle Dornhofer and his colleagues decided to conduct a study on the effects of altitude on people’s physiology using ultrasound, their fellowship director, Dr. Chris Fox introduced him to Clarius Mobile Health.
We had a weight constraint, so it was important to have a small portable ultrasound system to monitor physiology changes and Clarius is as portable as it gets,” he says. “We needed to take LVOT VTI measurements, which are pretty difficult, so the image quality had to be good. And we needed a handheld that was small enough to get between the ribs for an apical four or five-chamber view.”
Clarius lent the team 3 PA (Phased Array) HD3 scanners for their expedition to White Mountain in the Inyo-White Mountains where there are high-altitude research centers that can be booked to conduct studies. They spent 3-4 hours learning to use the Clarius PA HD3 scanners and the Clarius App to capture the types of scans they needed before setting out to collect data.
The study was a collaboration with the Wilderness Medicine Group and included 18 participants who were scanned with the Clarius PA three times per day starting at sea level and then at 3x per day for 3 days starting at sea level and then on the mountain at higher altitudes.
There is some desire to understand who’s going to progress to the more severe forms of altitude sickness and if there is a screening test to predict who is more susceptible,” Dr. Dornhofer explains. “Right now, the only screening tools out there are based on symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and fatigue.”
Although the results are still being tabulated and the study won’t be published until the summer of 2024, Dr. Dornhofer was able to share a few early results.
With our ultrasound exams, we found a correlation between people’s acute symptoms of mountain sickness and their volume status. Participants with the worse symptoms were retaining fluid.”
Acute mountain sickness usually sets in at over 6000 or 8000 feet. The group climbed to the peak elevation of 14, 252 feet.
The team attached a battery pack to the Clarius scanner, which extended scanning time to three days while on the expedition.
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