Evaluation Background: Wired Handheld Ultrasound Probes for Point-of-Care Applications

August 13, 2020 | Evaluations & Guidance


Here's background for our Evaluations of wired handheld ultrasound probes 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 each vendor.

The primary purpose of wired handheld ultrasound (HHUS) probes is to obtain images and other data that is used for diagnosis. These devices are also used to provide ultrasound guidance for interventional procedures such as injection of therapeutic medicine or fluid drainage.

Some HHUS probes are attached by a cable to a dedicated video display device. However, this article focuses only on HHUS probes that connect via a cable to the user's (or facility's) personal electronic device (PED) such as a smartphone or tablet that is used for data display. A proprietary ultrasound software application on the PED allows users to enter patient data, optimize imaging parameters, perform measurements, store images on the PED, or export data to a remote location for sharing and archiving.

These probes are primarily used for point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) applications, which we have divided into four clinical categories based on the device's FDA 510(k) cleared indications, display format, and available exam presets. For users who perform a wide range of exam types, HHUS probes that are indicated for two or more clinical categories provide workflow advantages over probes that are applicable only for a single category. Our POCUS clinical categories are:

  1. General applications, which are typically performed using sector or convex linear-array (CLA) probes and include abdominal, obstetric, gynecologic, and similar imaging assessments

  2. Cardiac applications, which are typically performed with sector or vector probes and include assessment of the heart and proximal great vessels

  3. Superficial applications, which are typically performed using a flat linear-array (FLA) probe and include assessment of the breast, thyroid, scrotum, blood vessels, and musculoskeletal system

  4. Very superficial applications, which are typically performed using an FLA probe and include assessment of the skin and subcutaneous tissues, assessment of the musculoskeletal system, and guidance for vascular access procedures

The use of POCUS continues to expand into new medical disciplines, and it is considered by many to be the standard of care in existing settings such as emergency medicine and anesthesia. Read more about POCUS in articles...

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