The main obstacles to the mass adoption of ultrasound in clinical settings have been that machinery for applying has always been prohibitively bulky and expensive. Recognizing this, a team of Vancouver-based engineers, at a startup named Clarius, have been on a quest to develop a truly portable and inexpensive ultrasound scanner. Receiving approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2016, their range of handheld, ultrasound scanners are being touted as having the potential to revolutionize healthcare. The device is lightweight, wireless and connects seamlessly with a smartphone app.
Advantages of Portable Ultrasound
If you mention ultrasound to most people, they instantly think about pregnancy, but this only accounts for around 20 percent of the ultrasound market. Ultrasound technology is useful in a number of applications ranging from monitoring heart valves to checking for gallstones. Ultrasound scans also offer far better images of soft tissue injuries than x-rays and so I often preferred by medical professionals.
The clearest immediate benefit to being to offer point-of-care ultrasound scans is that paramedics can give scans for internal damage at the scene of the accident. They can thus act immediately without having to first wait for a visit to the emergency ward. Other potential markets are professionals in sports medicine who need to take a better look at the muscle function of a patient or athlete. Nursing home workers or nurses in hospitals could use ultrasound as part of their routine monitoring of vitals and cardiac diagnostics. Where blood samples are needed, a device of this type can help to see the point of access and cut down the need for more than one attempt at drawing blood.
It is clear that the ultrasound imaging provided by this device offers benefits to physicians in a multitude of situations. What makes the Clarius devices particularity remarkable is that they have managed to create a range of devices that sell at price points ranging from USD$6,900 to $9,90. Normally, practitioners can expect to pay anything from $25,000 to over $250,000 for ultrasound machinery. Being able to purchase a handheld device at these type of prices should vastly increase adoption rates of ultrasound scans in medical facilities.
The Clarius scanner is completely portable and works in sync with any Android or IoS device. The creators have aimed to make using the device as easy as using the camera function on a phone. The technological specifications of the device include:
The Clarius device has been built to withstand the hustle and bustle of hospital environments where nearly anything can happen. Its encased in a magnesium shell which can be completely immersed in liquid. For creators looking for this type of high-level durability for their device, please reach out to either Golden Tiger Precision or Hanking Plastic Manufacturing.
The Clarius device uses proprietary ultrasound scanning technology. We have a number of experts on the HWTrek blog who are able to add assistance to projects of this type. JoyMed is able to provide full handheld ultrasound solutions. Edan Instruments also have experience providing ultrasound technology for hardware projects, as do Shenzhen Jumper.
The Clarius device has already been cleared for use in the USA, Canada, and Europe and they have just signed an agreement with North American Rescue to distribute the device to medical professionals at military and federal agencies. The device has the potential for better quality medical imaging for all and faster response times. With that, we expect to a greater push for the miniaturization and affordability of medical devices in the coming years.