How Does Point-of-Care Ultrasound Work?
July 29, 2021
If your patient is experiencing an emergency, point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is an accurate and efficient way to determine the cause of their symptoms. As a diagnostic tool, POCUS is incredibly beneficial and helps physicians and other medical professionals to diagnose patients at the point of care. This not only saves time, but it can also help patients who might need immediate attention—and moving them could make it worse. Exo Works™ increases POCUS workflow speed, so you can better help your patients. So how does POCUS work, and what are its uses?
What Is a Point-of-Care Ultrasound?
Point-of-care ultrasounds are a non-invasive diagnostic tool that allows medical professionals to examine patients wherever they are. Due to its portability, there is no need to move patients to an ultrasound examination room. In fact, because it is increasingly portable, ultrasound technology is becoming more widely available outside of traditional hospital settings. Using POCUS helps physicians assess and determine any causes for abdominal and chest pain, among other symptoms. POCUS can be used before a medical procedure to aid clinical decision-making due to its ability to monitor:
- Tube placement
- Heart function
- Lung function
- Breathing risks
- Blood flow
- Vascular access
- Nerve visualization
Ultimately, point-of-care ultrasound in emergency medicine helps medical professionals quickly diagnose these issues to better serve their patients without a dedicated space for the procedure. Point-of-care ultrasound benefits, such as high accuracy for multiple disorders, are portably diagnosing patients reliably and effectively. Using Exo Works, you can access your patients' ultrasound data anywhere, so you can give them the time and attention they need when it counts. POCUS is used as an easily accessible way to examine patients, but how does this imaging technology assess and diagnose them?
How Does an Ultrasound Work?
A point-of-care ultrasound uses high-frequency, electronic ultrasound waves, sent into the human body using a transducer (probe). A transducer is a device that can both emit and receive returning sound waves. To better understand how POCUS works, it’s beneficial to know how it operates electronically. According to the National Institute of Health, “The active elements in ultrasound transducers are made of special ceramic crystal materials called piezoelectrics. These materials are able to produce sound waves when an electric field is applied to them, but can also work in reverse, producing an electric field when a sound wave hits them.” Essentially, an ultrasound probe creates sound waves and can detect them using these ceramic crystals. Once the sound waves are detected, an image is displayed on a screen, which in the case of POCUS can be the screen of a small device, including cell phones.
Importantly, ultrasounds use sound waves that are undetectable by human hearing and are not harmful to the patient. There is no ionizing radiation involved with POCUS, so it remains a safe way to examine patients, especially in emergency situations.
The POCUS Process
In a medical emergency, a healthcare professional might perform a POCUS examination to determine the cause of symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest pain, abdominal pain, etc. The procedure itself is non-invasive and is used for diagnostic purposes. Once a patient is under the care of a professional, they should expect these things during a POCUS exam:
- Apply a special lubricating gel to the skin of the patient at the location of the examination.
- Use the probe by slowly moving it around the area to get a detailed look inside the patient’s body.
- Capture images during the process for reference later using software such as Exo Works.
- Complete the examination and clean off the gel.
- If there is enough evidence to make a diagnosis, treat the patient accordingly.
POCUS has high value in emergency situations, when decisions are needed immediately. Point-of-care ultrasound training will give you the ability to quickly use the device and understand what is on the screen.
POCUS Use in the Future
At Exo, we are taking medical imaging everywhere, unbound by hospital walls, so you can treat your patients immediately. Access point-of-care ultrasound data from the palm of your hand using Exo Works, our POCUS workflow. It gives you the ability to review images and complete exam documentation no matter where you are:
- Hassle-free documentation that is fast and flexible
- Review and document findings in seconds
- Securely distribute and access ultrasound exams through the cloud
- Automatic tracking and management with built-in QA and credentialing tools
Exo cares about your ability to assist your patients. That’s why we are dedicated to helping you help them anytime and anywhere. We thrive on simplicity, invention, authenticity, and serving others to give you the best experience possible. Visit our website today to learn more about how we can help you.