SonoSite ultrasound systems have been used in researching environmental effects on the human body in venues ranging from the deep-ocean floor to thin air at high altitudes. A recent study employed our Edge® point-of-care system in a unique variation of the latter. While conducted at high altitudes—in the Himalayas to be precise—the research focused on the ability to control body temperatures in extreme cold through the use of yogic meditation.
Alexander Levitov, MD, Eastern Virginia Medical School Dept. of Internal Medicine/Pulmonary and Critical Care, spent three weeks in November with two other researchers in the Himachal Pradesh Province (Republic of India) high in the Himalayan mountains where the Tibetan yoga "Tumo" (heat) is practiced. This form of deep meditation enables practitioners to generate internal body heat while tolerating exposure to extreme cold—often barely dressed while in ice and snow for hours—without discomfort or harm. Dr. Levitov and his team took Edge and other medical equipment with them to evaluate Tumo's physiological/hemodynamic effects.
Dr. Levitov reports that the team was especially fortunate to have had our ultrasound system with them: On the second day there, a suspension bridge collapsed, and the only diagnostic tool available was Edge, so it was used to assess the injuries of those hurt by the collapse.
During the study, the researchers used Edge to measure cardiac performance and carotid flow. Measurements were taken on Tumo practitioners and volunteers during cold exposure and then on both groups while warming up through Tumo meditation or by traditional methods like blankets.
Levitov is now compiling the results in a paper co-authored with his two expedition teammates who complete the trio of chief scientific officers: David Bahner, MD, Ohio State University Dept. of Emergency Medicine/Ultrasound; and Rinad Minvaleyev, Cand. Bio. Sci., Saint-Petersburg State University Physical Education and Sports. Minvaleyev, a Russian physiologist who conducts yearly expeditions to the Himalayas, served as the team's "bridge" to Tumo practitioners. Levitov looks forward to returning for further studies, and he reports that National Geographic has expressed interest in documenting the next expedition.