News | October 01, 2007

Could Handheld Ultrasound Replace the Stethoscope?

October 1, 2007 – GE revealed its works-in-progress hand-held ultrasound prototype at GE Media Day held October 1 at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY, which researchers hope will be used as prevalently as a stethoscope and, may one day replace it.

GE announced that is on the verge of introducing an ultrasound system that doctors will be able to hold in the palm of their hand. The migration to smaller applications has been made possible by increased computation, higher power efficiency and electronic miniaturization.

The miniaturization of ultrasound not only provides portability but it is more economical, which would increase its availability, it provides nearly the same image quality as a laptop and has multiple uses that span many avenues of healthcare. This would expand ultrasound’s role in healthcare from traditional applications like obstetrics to new applications such as emergency/ambulatory medicine, sports medicine and primary care for general practitioners.

Researchers anticipate that doctors will have ultrasound stethoscopes to perform quick routine examinations that can be done in the office, at someone’s home or other remote locations. Specifically, primary physicians could use it to check the heart and other vital signs; obstetricians could use it to check a baby’s heartbeat, and first responders could use it when responding to an emergency to help assess the extent of a patient’s injuries.

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