Couple of years back, Tom Cruise was in news for buying a sonogram machine (Ultrasound) so that he and his girlfriend Katie Holmes can see their unborn child, whenever they wanted.. I don’t know whether it was the good or bad idea, but certainly suggests intriguing and extreme emotion of Tom Cruise as a father. I would like to throw light on latest buzz in ultrasound market -“An ultrasound in the hand”. Yes, now doctors or patients can take advantage of handheld ultrasound equipments which are portable, user friendly, and available at lower price with enhanced functionality.
Ultrasound is used for a variety of imaging and medical treatment options. So far people have relied on massive ultrasound machines to perform a procedure which requires visit to a hospital. These equipments are expensive, bulky, heavy, and not to mention cannot be used in the field.
Now a latest handheld ultrasound technology can improve patient care by bringing ultrasound to the point of care for faster diagnosis, which was not possible with non portable versions. Here are the few advantage offers by hand held ultrasound device:
What are advantages of handheld ultrasound devices?
- Light weight: It weighs less than two pounds and can be held in one hand.
- Ease to use: It is a fast, easy way to do initial screenings for heart, circulatory problems and so on.
- Portability: It can be used in the situations like battlefields, rescue operations and even at your home.
- Cost Effective: Hand–held ultrasound technology is less costly than conventional machines.
- Budget effective: It is more accessible to clinics with a minimal operating budget.
- Enhances functions: The technology exhibits promise to...
replace things like stethoscopes.
- Battery Operated: Many of the devices can be operated by batteries, therefore easy to use outside the clinic.
Who are the major players that manufacture hand held ultrasound devices?
The medical Ultrasound market is expected to grow to more than #5.3 billion by 2016, which is driven primarily to development of hand held ultrasound device. Sonosite Inc. was the first company to introduce these devices in 1999 and GE medical imaging joined the race. There are many existing players and some are working on it, such as, Philips, Siemens, Toshiba, Taxes Instruments, Aloka, Esaote, Zonare, etc.
What are the limitations of handheld ultrasound devices?
- The American Heart Association says conventional ultrasounds are a great way to find coronary problems but that are not yet sold on the benefits of the hand held ultrasound systems.
- Special training is required to operate, read ultrasound images and interpret them properly. If untrained doctors or person uses a hand held ultrasound, they could misdiagnose a condition, fail to see a problem, or identify a medical issue, where none exists.
Several medical groups are working to draft guidelines on who should use, and what types of patients should be scanned with, this new technology. It is certain that with the right training, this equipment can be very effective and play a huge role in catalyzing the discovery of new and better therapeutic applications. Although, diagnosis or interpretation of results is one of the biggest factors in analyzing data generated by hand held ultrasound devices, if they are cost effective to a common man, I am sure with proper training, the devices can be as popular as blood pressure monitors or glucometers.