What are the applications of handheld ultrasound devices?
Abdominal screening: FAST (Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma) is one of the standard protocols in trauma management. It is a rapid bedside ultrasound that is used in the emergency department. It is used to screen for the presence of blood around the heart or abdominal organs. The examination can also be extended to the lungs in order to screen for the presence of pneumothorax.
Portable ultrasound has also proven effective in the detection of abdominal aortic aneurysm. It is as effective as traditional ultrasonography, and the portable ultrasound device can also be used to measure the maximum diameter of the abdominal aorta.
Bladder volume: Residual urinary bladder volume is measured when investigating for urinary incontinence or evaluating urinary tract infections. Usually this is done by catheterization, which is invasive, unpleasant and carries the risk of infection. A handheld ultrasound device offers a convenient alternative to measure bladder volume, and has proven to be almost as accurate.
Cardiovascular applications: While the traditional echocardiography console is still the gold standard in most cardiology units, there are instances where quicker results are required. This can be achieved with the help of a portable ultrasound device. The portable device can assist in screening for cardiovascular diseases. For instance, carotid artery stenosis is often not detected at the primary healthcare center while a duplex ultrasound or an MRI is ordered only in cases of an acute event (such as an infarction or stroke). However, if the portable ultrasound device were used in primary care, it would help identify patients who are at a higher risk of stroke. The device can help dictate proper management of risk factors and it can help select candidates who would benefit from therapeutic procedures, such as endarterectomy.
The handheld ultrasound device can also help screen patients who have clinically suspected deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Prompt detection and management of DVT can help avoid fatal outcomes, such as those associated with pulmonary embolism. The handheld ultrasound device has also been used to detect varicose veins, both primary and those that recur after treatment.
Obstetrics: As with cardiology, the traditional console is most commonly used for obstetrics. As of today, the traditional console cannot be replaced by the portable device, especially for anomaly scans and 4D scans that are used to assess the health of the fetus. However, the portable ultrasound device does have a role to play in obstetrics in the emergency setting. If a pregnant patient presents with bleeding or ruptured membranes, the portable ultrasound device can be used to determine fetal viability and fetal positioning, which can help detect a miscarriage. The amniotic fluid volume can also be measured and management strategies can be planned accordingly.
Musculoskeletal problems: The handheld ultrasound device can be applied in the outpatient clinic to diagnose various musculoskeletal problems. Studies have shown that the handheld ultrasound device can be almost as sensitive as arthroscopy in detecting partial or complete rotator cuff tears of the shoulder. Using ultrasound can help avoid unnecessary MRIs in these patients, which lead to both financial and time savings. The handheld ultrasound device has been used in knee joints to exclude meniscal tears. The portable ultrasound device is also used in the emergency department to screen for swollen joints. This can help exclude a diagnosis of joint effusion.
Ultrasound-guided treatment: The portable ultrasound device can be used to guide treatment in the operating room. Regional anesthetic blocks can be given under ultrasound guidance. Portable ultrasound devices are also useful to detect lesions and masses prior to taking an ultrasound-guided biopsy. In vascular surgery, a handheld ultrasound device may be used to identify blood vessels relevant to the procedure.
(Source from postdicom)