Evaluation Background: Cart-Based Point-of-Care Ultrasound Scanners

August 29, 2018 | Evaluations & Guidance


Diagnostic ultrasound imaging uses high-frequency sound waves to acquire images and other data used to assess anatomy and physiology. Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) refers to the use of the technology by the treating physician at the point of care (POC), as opposed to sending the patient to an imaging specialist such as a radiologist.

The majority of scanners used for POCUS applications are portable—a category that ECRI Institute defines as scanners not permanently attached to a wheeled cart (although portable scanners can be placed on carts). Cart-based POCUS scanners, on the other hand, are permanently mounted on wheels, and typically offer larger video displays and better ergonomic features than portable ultrasound scanners. For more information on how cart-based POCUS scanners compare to other types of scanners for POCUS applications, see Advantages of Cart-Based Point-of-Care Ultrasound Scanners.

A POCUS exam is typically performed to answer a specific clinical question, such as "Does the patient have fluid around the lungs?" POCUS is also used to guide interventional procedures, such as injection of some medications or diagnostic biopsies.

POCUS is the most rapidly growing segment of the ultrasound market. The emergence of cart-based scanners that are specifically designed for POCUS applications has resulted from increased use of POCUS technology, greater clinician experience, and expanding clinical applications. The technology is constantly evolving to improve image quality and ease of use, and the variety of clinical users and applications continues to expand. Customized models are marketed for specific POCUS applications, such as emergency medicine and interventional applications.

The major components of a cart-based POCUS scanner and their functions are:

  1. A console on wheels containing a computer that controls the ultrasound signal generator, receiver, and processor.

  2. A user interface that consists of various controls used to adjust image quality and obtain measurements and calculations, and an alphanumeric keyboard to enter patient information and annotate images. The user interface...

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