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What is Handheld Ultrasound?

Exo Iris is the new age of ultrasound, a handheld device unlike any other.

Handheld ultrasound compacts conventional ultrasound machines, which are bulky and typically weigh hundreds of pounds, into a portable size, revolutionizing the space and speed with which healthcare professionals diagnose and treat patients. Since handheld ultrasounds are smaller than their traditional counterparts, companies can provide ultrasounds beyond the walls of the radiology department, such as in the ICU or even on the sideline of a football game. Because of their size and price, handheld ultrasounds also can be more readily available than traditional machines, which eases the process of teaching clinicians how to use ultrasound, preparing them to assist patients at a moment’s notice when carrying medical imaging technology with them wherever they go. But what makes handheld ultrasound so special?

Defining Handheld Ultrasound

So, what exactly is a handheld ultrasound? In simple terms, it is a small ultrasound machine that fits in the palm of your hand. It works by using high-frequency sound waves to create images of the body. These images can help doctors and nurses diagnose a wide range of medical conditions, from pregnancy to heart disease, cancer to internal injuries, without the need for extensive wait times or additional testing.

One of the key benefits of handheld ultrasound is its portability. Unlike traditional ultrasound machines, which can be bulky and difficult to move, handheld ultrasound devices can be taken to the patient, rather than the other way around. This makes them particularly useful in emergencies, such as when patients are unable to move. Additionally, handheld ultrasound reduces the risk of infection from hospitals by eliminating the need to mobilize patients.

Now, patients can receive the care they deserve, right at their bedside. As a result, handheld ultrasounds are being rapidly implemented in intensive care units, rural locations, and even on the battlefield.

An Emphasis on Ease of Use and Portability

Besides its portability, handheld ultrasound is also easy to access and use. Different from traditional imaging technologies, such as MRI or CT scans, handheld ultrasound devices are simpler and intuitive. When well-designed, handheld ultrasound devices can be operated with just a few buttons or touchscreen taps, it requires less training on how to use them.

This accessibility allows caregivers to learn more about their patients, examining them with little to no delay. At a time when healthcare burnout has created widespread staffing shortages at emergency care facilities, a handheld ultrasound can help to alleviate staffing shortages by increasing the number of existing professionals who can scan patients.

Advancing Imaging, Everywhere

Handheld ultrasound is not only efficient, cost-effective, and accessible, but it’s also a contributing factor towards reforming and improving medical imaging through Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) imaging.

POCUS imaging allows medical practitioners to examine their patients on a deeper level and get clinical answers at their bedside, eliminating the need to transport them to a radiology suite. Combined with increasing access to imaging technology, clinician-performed POCUS has been demonstrated to improve the patient experience. Not only that, but POCUS can also emphasize better practices of maximizing clinical resources while relieving budget constraints. Taken together, it can demonstrate a compelling return on investment (ROI) for a health system.

Improving Care for Everyone

The value of handheld POCUS extends beyond delivering medical answers to caregivers at an instant. Handheld devices can also democratize ultrasounds in communities that often don’t have access to medical imaging. According to the U.S. Census, about 60 million people, or one in five Americans, live in rural locations far from major health systems. These individuals likely experience greater challenges in obtaining an ultrasound, given the time and money it takes to travel to and from the hospital.

Unlike cart-based POCUS, handheld POCUS devices can often fit in the back of a caregiver’s pocket and be carried to the most remote corners of the world, which makes it a good choice for clinicians in care situations that demand increased portability.

Transforming Ultrasound through Groundbreaking Technology

With its portability, ease of use, and advanced imaging capabilities, handheld ultrasound devices are becoming an essential tool for medical practitioners in a wide range of clinical settings. Exo has designed and recently released the innovative handheld ultrasound device, Exo Iris™, that uses patented piezoelectric micromachined ultrasound transducer (pMUT) technology and real-time artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver standardized high-quality imaging in various clinical settings, from emergency departments to primary care clinics. It fits in your pocket.

Learn more about Exo Iris and Exo’s full ultrasound ecosystem here: