Evaluation Background: Handheld Point-of-Care Ultrasound Scanners

September 13, 2017 | Evaluations & Guidance


Here's background for our Evaluations of handheld ultrasound (HHUS) scanners used for point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) applications, outlining the key considerations for making wise purchasing decisions. Learn how the technology is used, which specs are important, and what factors we test for. Also review our latest product ratings and ECRI's data describing hospitals' interest in available models.

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

A typical HHUS scanner is designed to be held in one hand during imaging exams while the transducer is held in the other hand. It is not limited to a single application, such as vessel localization during vascular access procedures. Typical applications include answering a specific clinical question, such as "Does the patient have fluid around their heart?" and guiding interventional procedures, such as therapeutic injection of medications or central line placements.

HHUS technology is in its clinical adoption phase. Manufacturers continue to improve the imaging performance of the scanners and add features that enhance use of the devices by clinicians at the POC.

Major device components are:

  1. A handheld transducer, sometimes referred to as a probe.

  2. Application software, typically...

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