How Handheld Ultrasounds Can Speed up Diagnosis

Ultrasound technology is important in a wide array of applications in the world of medicine, especially when it comes to diagnoses. From providing information about the development of the fetus in utero to offering ways to learn more about the gallbladder and blood vessels, the pediatric and cardiac applications of ultrasound technology are vital to the day-to-day operations of any emergency room or physician’s office. With that in mind, clunkier ultrasound machines that must stay in one room or be wheeled on carts from patient bedside to patient bedside can potentially hinder a doctor’s ability to quickly diagnose a condition.

In some situations, particularly in emergency medicine, the ponderous nature of traditional ultrasound machines can negatively impact a patient’s medical care outcome. This is why handheld ultrasound devices are becoming increasingly popular in many medical settings. A handheld ultrasound device offers the same clarity in imagery that other ultrasounds do; however, handheld ultrasounds are smaller, easier to maneuver, and ultimately, more affordable. Learn more about what handheld ultrasounds are and how they are speeding up diagnosis below.

What is a portable ultrasound device?

A portable ultrasound device is not very different from a traditional ultrasound device in terms of  the functionality they provide to a cardiologist, radiologist, or other clinicians. Portable or handheld devices are sometimes referred to as Point of Care Ultrasounds since they’re able to be utilized directly where the patient is, rather than needing to take the patient into another room or part of the hospital. Since a POCUS (point of care ultrasound) is a handheld device and wireless, the image from the ultrasound gets securely and wirelessly transmitted to a smartphone or tablet device. Image quality from portable ultrasound devices are quite impressive, too. The fact that images can be cast from a smartphone to a television set or viewed directly on a tablet makes it a more portable and accessible option for physical examinations.

How do handheld ultrasound devices improve physical examination and diagnosis?

Due to the fact that they’re hand-held devices, portable ultrasounds are incredibly helpful in a wide range of situations. One example of a hand-held wireless ultrasound device being helpful can be seen with clinicians or EMS responders in emergency situations. This means that, in terms of efficiency, using portable devices can help an  exam can occur wherever the patient is located. Especially in tense, emergency situations (such as where heart failure might be expected), being able to use portable devices means that it’s possible to gather information prior to getting to the emergency room. Imagine being able to do an echocardiography exam as a patient is being loaded onto an ambulance so that you quickly relay the condition of the patient at the ICU rather than waiting until you arrive.

Hand-held devices make it faster to get more accurate readings. A novice user may struggle to get a good reading of the intercostal area between the ribs with a traditional ultrasound device; however, with the POCUS device, you can perform an ultrasound scan with wider feasibility for tight areas of the human body. A hand-held device also means that you get more flexibility for paramedics and examiners to use an ultrasound probe on different body types.

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