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How does POCUS (Point-of-Care Ultrasound) work?

Ultrasound is one of the most used diagnostic imaging techniques in the world. Not only can Ultrasound be used to image babies in utero, but also be used to image many parts of our bodies, and POCUS is a relatively new concept. POCUS, short for point-of-care ultrasound, refers to the practice of trained medical professionals using ultrasound to diagnose patients anywhere, either in modern hospitals, ambulances or remote villages. To support this practice, portable ultrasound came into being, allowing clinicians to diagnose and treat patients more quickly and accurately in a non-invasive manner without traveling to the radiology department.


In this article, we are going to share with you some basic ideas about POCUS, including its definition, applications and benefits.


What is POCUS?
What is POCUS?

How Did POCUS Come into Being?


The application of ultrasound enjoys a long history. Dr. Karl Theodore Dussik was believed to be the first to use sonogram for medical diagnosis in 1942, when he transmitted an ultrasound beam through the skull of a human to detect brain tumors and, later in the same year, published the first medical report on ultrasound after conducting research on brain transmission ultrasound in Austria, marking the first application of ultrasound in the medical field. Medical ultrasound has been gaining popularity for its wide range of inspections, high accuracy, fast inspection rate. It does not need to perform incision, leaves no contraindications, and is good for repeated inspections.


The History of POCUS
The History of POCUS

However, the original ultrasound device was too bulky to move. Its immobility restricts it from screening patients anytime, anywhere. In order to achieve portability so that it can be used in case of emergency care and treatment, portable ultrasound has emerged as required, specifically targeting point-of-care ultrasound practice. Portable ultrasound has been increasingly recognized and welcomed in medical institutions, as it is more portable, easier to operate, and renders images clearly - no wonder Portable ultrasound is gaining more market share and catching up with traditional ultrasound gradually.


What Makes Portable Ultrasound Special


Regardless of their wide applications in many sectors and industries, portable ultrasounds are more commonly applied in clinical practice, as they significantly contribute to the inspection of abdominal organs and fetal development during pregnancy. Moreover, portable ultrasounds are found to be more accurate in the examination and diagnosis of superficial areas and small organs (such as thyroid and breast) over black-and-white ultrasounds. Ultrasound can make better judgments by observing the size of the vascular lumen, the flow speed, direction of blood and the establishment of collateral circulation.


Portable ultrasound is very effective during a disaster for its small size, lightweight and high time sensitiveness.


In the past, many people lost their lives in disasters and catastrophes without timely treatment. For example, in urgent situations such as earthquakes, most of the victims were injured by collapsed houses, mostly in their livers, lungs and other internal organs. Portable ultrasound functions exactly like the traditional ultrasound by looking inside their bodies and checking various organs, including hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers, spleens and muscles. Better even, portable ultrasound is superior to traditional ultrasound due to its lightness and fast imaging, allowing the doctor to conduct rapid diagnosis and triage. Only in this way can more lives be saved within 72 hours, the golden rescue time.


4 Main POCUS Clinical Applications


Portable ultrasound has a variety of potential clinical applications, ranging from bedside diagnosis to guided intervention. Like traditional ultrasound, portable ultrasound can be used to clearly visualize a series of organs. What makes it superior to traditional ultrasound is the portability of portable ultrasound, allowing these procedures to be performed more widely, not just in hospitals. When it comes to guiding procedures like biopsy and needle aspiration, portable ultrasound plays a vital part too.


Musculoskeletal imaging


With the development of technology, ultrasound has become one of the most rapidly developing techniques in musculoskeletal imaging in recent years. Musculoskeletal ultrasound is a powerful and painless tool used by radiologists to provide real-time images of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and cartilage throughout the body. Portable ultrasound is one of the representatives of this field.


In musculoskeletal imaging, portable ultrasound has been of greater use, as it helps judge if the tendon is torn, or how badly it is torn. For those suffering from pain and swelling in hands and feet, ultrasound can quickly and reliably make a diagnosis to determine whether it is caused by tenosynovitis or not. In this way, the quality of care can be improved greatly. Also, ultrasound can assess and evaluate the situation of chronic arthritis. Finally, ultrasound plays an indispensable role in guiding the puncture and extraction of tendons and bursae as well as the injection of soft tissues.


Cardiac/critical care


Doctors cannot conduct cardiopulmonary monitoring without ultrasound, nor can they conduct rapid treatment of trauma patients with cardiac rupture and pericardial effusion without guidance from ultrasound. Portable ultrasound contributes to the quick and effective assessment of the overall size and function of the heart, the size of the various chambers of the heart, along with myocardial status. Through portable ultrasound, the doctor is able to check if there is regurgitation, to evaluate the situation of blood volume, cardiac valves and cardiac pump, and to detect the causes of hypotension, etc.


Cardiac Imaging
Cardiac Imaging

Needle visualization guidance


With its advanced digital imaging technology and clear image, portable ultrasound can also be used by musculoskeletal radiologists to guide injections and procedures, for it enables the anesthetist to find out the position of the needle and monitor the distribution of the local anesthetic accurately in real time.


By visualizing vascular puncture, guiding the placement of laryngeal mask or trachea cannula, facilitating joint puncture and nerve block, directing pericardium, chest, abdominal cavity puncture, portable ultrasound makes itself heart of the needle visualization guidance.


Carotid Artery Imaging
Carotid Artery Imaging

CT or MRI alternative


Portable ultrasound is particularly helpful in resource-limited settings where access to traditional diagnostic methods, such as computed tomography (CT) or echocardiography, is limited. In emergency situations where traditional diagnostic methods (e.g., CT or echocardiography) are unavailable, while time is extremely tight, and delays in diagnosis may lead to fatal result, POCUS plays a significant part.


Take Australia for an example. In Australia, general practitioners, also referred to as GP, are normally the first ones you visit if anything uncomfortable occurs to you. General practitioners perform health services, and deal with common diseases, frequently occurring diseases and general emergencies. If the patients find it hard to find it hard to visit them, general practitioners are happy to visit you instead. During their door-to-door service, general practitioners would establish their medical files accordingly, and that’s the time portable ultrasound comes into play. The availability and portability of portable ultrasound can become the best alternative for CT or MRT and enable the general practitioner to make the accurate diagnosis in outpatient, ward, station and door-to-door visits in general.


Applications of Portable Ultrasound
Applications of Portable Ultrasound

Portable Ultrasound’s Prospect


Portable ultrasounds have been going strong in recent years, both globally and regionally.


By 2021, the global market of portable color ultrasound equipment reached USD 653 million, and it is expected to reach USD 1268.45 million by 2028, growing at an amazing compound rate of 10.02% annually.


In reality, portable ultrasound will only be better than estimation. As the living standards of residents worldwide improved constantly, and awareness of medical care strengthened, relevant policies are introduced to pave the way for its development and prosperity. The medical device industry will soon be upgraded to a new stage. With the strong support of a series of policies and technology advances, the world's market capacity for all imaging devices will expand rapidly.


How to Choose the Best POCUS Device?


For the merits mentioned above, portable ultrasound has become more common and welcomed in a variety of clinical settings.


There are two factors to consider when you want to choose a portable ultrasound device. The first is your intended use. There are many types of portable ultrasound, such as dual-head ultrasound, single-head ultrasound and three-in-one ultrasound, etc. It is suggested to confirm your own needs (do you need to scan a certain regional area, or do you need to scan the whole body?) so as to choose the device accordingly. The second factor is the integration level. How "portable" would you like it to be? By answering this question, you can help yourself making up your mind over either wired or wireless products.


Suppose you are still indecisive, wondering which to choose after reading the above instructions. In that case, we recommend you purchase the Viatom three-in-one portable ultrasound —— one of the most popular products in our company. Viatom has made great efforts to invent this product with the principle that simplifies the use of the instrument without sacrificing functionality. It contains cardiac probes, straight probes and cardiac probes, and you only need to adjust the ultrasound software to complete the probe replacement. And you can read the following details before you make any decisions:


Viatom C10 3 in 1 Portable Ultrasound
Viatom C10 3 in 1 Portable Ultrasound

First of all, Viatom three-in-one portable ultrasound can realize the transition from shallow scan to deep scan without switching. And with the most advanced digital imaging technology, this small machine can provide accurate data and high-definition images beyond traditional desktop ultrasound machines.


Secondly, Viatom three-in-one portable ultrasound has an independent Wi-Fi module, and you can receive delay-free image transmission without the external network, which helps to reduce data transmission delay and improve image clarity.


Thirdly, the ultrasound scanner software supports many languages, including German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and other languages, and you do not need to worry about language problems.


Last but not the least, Viatom three-in-one portable ultrasound is suitable for whole body examination. And you can choose any types you want. Overall, the Viatom three-in-one portable ultrasound offers a variety of user-friendly features, such as a one-touch operation and a large color LCD display, which make it the perfect choice for busy clinics and mobile practices.


Conclusion


In conclusion, portable ultrasound is a valuable tool that has many potential applications in the medical field. It is a quick, easy way to get an accurate image of what is happening inside the body and can help doctors make better decisions about treatment. At present, the growth rate of portable ultrasound in developed countries is as high as 30% to 40%, showing good momentum. Naturally, with the development of technology and the countries’ vigorous reform of medical care, the portable ultrasound global market will soon witness rapid growth.


References


[1] Point of Care Ultrasound: An Overview. Available at:

https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2017/10/31/09/57/point-of-care-ultrasound (Accessed: Oct 31, 2017)


[2] Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS)= Emergency US, Clinical US, Focused US

Available at: https://123sonography.com/point-of-care-ultrasound


[3] POCUS: an introduction to point-of-care ultrasound technology  

Available at: https://www.usa.philips.com/healthcare/education-resources/publications/ultrasound-blog/pocus-an-introduction-to-point-of-care-ultrasound-technology



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