I loves me some ultrasound.
It’s quite possibly the most versatile imaging tool ever created. It can do/detect all of the following:
Transcranial dopplers for head bleeds. Estimation of elevated intracranial pressures in trauma. Retinal detachments. Abscess of neck or jaw. Guidance for central lines. Detection of clots in major vessels. Detection of poor carotid flow. Broken bones. Pneumothorax. Pulmonary edema. Pneumonia. Pleural effusions. A host of heart findings, from function to valvular problems. Inflamed gall bladders, liver damage, kidney damage, blood in the abdomen, ruptured spleen, AAAs, bladder problems. Guidance for abdominal abscess drains. Guidance for nerve blocks. DVTs. Testicular problems. Fetal ultrasounds.
And that’s just off the top of my head. There’s more, if you care to look. And they are portable.
A new, top of the line dedicated ultrasound machine for echocardiography is about, oh, $200,000.
But you don’t need that. You can get a very nice echo capable machine for around $60,000.
However, it’s many a time I’ve said to myself, wouldn’t it be sweet to just plug an ultrasound probe into my smart phone and scan away? Or my iPad? or just my laptop? Especially since many of the midrange (but perfectly functional) ultrasounds are just laptops anyway?
Yup. I’m not the first to think of that. And now, I can buy it.
A company called Mobisante has developed ultrasounds aimed at the 3rd world/non-rich populations. Which means they will fit right in, should you be looking for something for your grid down hospital.
The first is a modified Microsoft/Windows smartphone:
That has most of the basic capabilities, and has the advantage of being very small.
The (modified Windows) tablet has a bit more room:
As well as dedicated software, so you don’t clutter up your tablet’s memory with random YouTube videos.
The last bit is most intriguing. They will send you the software and ultrasound probe so that you can load it on your own, dedicated laptop. Whatever device you desire, although I would recommend something a bit higher end than the minimal specs.
Are they perfect? Heck no. For example, there is no dedicated echocardiography probe (that produces movies like the one at the top of this post). I don’t see that they are doppler capable. But that will be fixed, I suspect, over the next iteration of these devices. And they are selling for about 90% less than the $50,000 ones mentioned above.
Disclaimer: I have not laid hands on these devices myself. They may suck beyond all compare. You should be aware that my baseline is a $70,000, dedicated ICU machine, so I would not expect these (estimated) $5000 machines to be equivalent. I have no financial interest in your purchase. As mentioned before, we’re not even an Amazon affiliate, so I really have no financial interest at all. Do your homework, and caveat emptor.
Using these things and interpreting the images are two different, moderately challenging skill sets. Any ER, ICU, cardiologist, anesthesia, or radiologist should be able to interpret the critical images. Acquisition can be done by them as well, albeit slower and with less finesse than a dedicated ultrasound tech.