Getting to the heart of cardiac ultrasound technology

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | April 01, 2019
Cardiology Ultrasound
From the April 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Mid- and lower-end systems, ($40,000-$50,000) typically offer traditional ultrasound capabilities such as Mo, 2D and Doppler. Usually a mobile platform with wheels, many are often used in point-of-care settings such as the ICU, emergency room or for surgery.

Mobile systems such as Siemens' ACUSON Bonsai portable
cardiac ultrasound are often helpful in point of care
settings in hospitals, such as the ICU, emergency
room or for surgery.
An emerging, and significantly lower-cost family of ultrasound systems is point-of-care handhelds. These highly portable solutions range in size from that of a laptop down to a smartphone. These systems are valuable in a range of settings both in and outside the hospital, from sporting arenas to war-torn battlefields, and can cost a couple of thousand dollars.

"Butterfly iQ's handheld system makes ultrasound as accessible as a stethoscope," said Dr. John Martin, chief medical officer for Butterfly Network, as he discussed the company’s single probe, whole-body ultrasound system, which he said is the first of its kind available for under $2,000. "These handheld systems can help lower healthcare costs and save time in diagnosing and treating patients. For example, patients often have to wait for post operative exams ordered by cardiologists thus delaying discharge, sometimes overnight."

Other handhelds ultrasound manufacturers include Philips, GE Healthcare and Clarius, among others. While growing in popularity, it should be noted that handhelds are not meant to replace more sophisticated ultrasound systems, but act as adjunct devices that provide care in situations where it is needed immediately, and to reduce the workloads of higher-end systems.

“Of course, handheld devices do not have the same capabilities as higher-end ones in terms of computer power, image processing, and image quality that are required for a full and comprehensive echo exam,” said Hila Goldman-Aslan, CEO of DiA Imaging Analysis. Her company offers LVivo EF, a cardiac ultrasound solution that measures ejection fraction and is available with the recently-launched GE Healthcare Vscan Extend handheld mobile ultrasound.

“However, the handheld devices are the perfect fit for an initial assessment of the patient’s heart condition, for screening, and for supporting the decision of what the next step is,” she added. “For instance, DiA tools provide an objective AI-based cardiac ultrasound analysis, and allow quick and easy-to-use auto analysis of cardiac function abnormalities.”

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