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A Comprehensive Guide to Handheld Ultrasound Machines

Jeannine Noble PT, MS, RMSK

Ultrasound machines have made great advancements since their inception when they could only produce static images and were over 8 feet tall. Today, these powerful tools can fit right in the palm of your hand. Curious about the precision available in these convenient, portable devices? Learn more in this comprehensive guide on the top handheld ultrasound machines, so you can make an informed decision on your purchase and achieve a seamless medical imaging experience.

What is a Handheld Ultrasound Machine?

A handheld ultrasound machine is a compact device that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time imaging. It allows medical professionals to perform diagnostic examinations anytime, anywhere.

Definition and Purpose of Handheld Ultrasound Machines

Ultrasound technology has been crucial in diagnosing and monitoring various medical conditions for decades. Traditionally, ultrasound machines were large and stationary, limiting their accessibility and convenience. Recent technological advancements allowed the development of smaller, more compact versions, providing a more versatile alternative for ultrasound procedures.

Advantages and Limitations of Handheld Ultrasound Machines

The portability of these devices gives medical professionals much flexibility, enabling point-of-care imaging and real-time diagnoses whenever, wherever. This ease of access to important information facilitates faster decision-making and enhances patient outcomes, particularly in emergency situations or remote locations. Handheld ultrasound machines are also cost-effective alternatives to traditional bulky machines, expanding the reach of ultrasound technology.

However, due to their smaller size, they may not have the same level of imaging capabilities as larger systems, limiting their diagnostic accuracy in certain cases. Furthermore, the display screens may be smaller, which can impact the visibility of detailed structures. Despite these limitations, advancements in technology are continually addressing these concerns, making handheld ultrasound machines an invaluable tool that significantly benefits modern healthcare procedures.

Which Handheld Ultrasound Machine Should I Get?

When choosing a handheld ultrasound machine, exploring the available options in the market is necessary. Each device has distinct features and capabilities tailored to specific medical requirements and specialties. Now, let’s dive into the important factors that will guide you in choosing the perfect device that aligns with your preferences.

Butterfly IQ+

The Butterfly IQ+, with integrated CMOS chip probe technology, is a handheld medical ultrasound imaging device with advanced technology and a portable design. This device will cater to diverse medical needs with exceptional imaging clarity, a user-friendly interface, and a versatile application. With continuous software updates, the Butterfly IQ+ stays at the cutting edge of medical technology. It is FDA-approved and clinically validated, ensuring reliable and precise results for every scan.

  • Cost: $2699 + $420 annual membership
  • Operating System: Android or IOS
  • Warranty: 1 years
  • Storage plan: [NA]
  • Battery life: Up to 2 hours of continuous scanning
  • Website

Clarius

The Clarius handheld ultrasound machine is yet another revolutionary device that elevates ultrasound imaging to the next level. This device offers high-quality imaging, an intuitive user interface, and advanced imaging modes like color Doppler. With long battery life and wireless connectivity, you can collaborate easily and perform multiple scans worry-free. You can also choose from a selection of transducers fit for different applications and specialties, making it ideal for healthcare professionals and veterinarians specializing in obstetrics, cardiology, musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging, and more.

  • Cost: Starting at $3395 + $595 membership
  • Operating System: Android and IOS (Continuously updating)
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Storage plan: [NA]
  • Battery life: Up to 60 minutes of continuous scanning
  • Website

GE Vscan Air

Get your hands on GE Vscan Air and experience high-resolution imaging, an intuitive interface, and real-time results for detailed and accurate diagnostics. Packed with piezoelectric probe technology, extended battery life, and compatibility with mobile devices, it’s designed for healthcare professionals on the go. From cardiology to obstetrics and musculoskeletal ultrasound, the Vscan Air offers a wide range of applications.

  • Cost: Starting at $4765
  • Operating System: Android or IOS
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Storage plan: [NA]
  • Battery life: Up to 50 minutes of continuous scanning
  • Website

Healcerion Sonon

On-the-go medical imaging is made possible with Healcerion Sonon. This compact, wireless device empowers professionals to perform scans anywhere, making it perfect for at-home healthcare. Versatile applications include obstetrics, cardiology, and musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging. Rest assured with secure data storage and FDA-approved safety and quality.

  • Cost: $4995/probe
  • Operating System: Android, IOS, Windows
  • Warranty: 1 years
  • Storage plan: [NA]
  • Battery life: Up to 3 hours of continuous scanning (removable battery)
  • Website

Mindray TE Air

The Mindray TE Air enhances diagnostic imaging for medical professionals with its handheld design. Its intuitive touchscreen interface and high-resolution imaging technology ensure clear and detailed ultrasound images, catering to a broad range of applications. Advanced imaging modes like color Doppler and panoramic imaging enhance diagnostic capabilities. Wireless connectivity and long battery life enable seamless data transfer, remote consultations, and uninterrupted ultrasound scanning sessions. The device’s durability and compatibility with various ultrasound probes make it reliable for demanding environments. It provides real-time imaging and on-screen measurements for immediate analysis and decision-making, making it a valuable tool for healthcare professionals in diverse specialties, including emergency medicine and remote healthcare settings.

  • Cost: Not available at this time
  • Operating System: Android or IOS
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Storage plan: [NA]
  • Battery life: Up to 80 minutes of continuous scanning
  • Website

Philips Lumify

Experience high-quality imaging with the Philips Lumify portable ultrasound machine. Its versatile features cover cardiac, abdominal, vascular, and musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging. You can also collaborate seamlessly using cloud-enabled technology and enjoy real-time imaging, on-screen measurements, and accurate blood flow analysis with high-resolution images, piezoelectric probe technology, and Doppler capabilities for swift diagnosis and treatment decisions.

  • Cost: $6000/probe
  • Operating System: Android
  • Warranty: 3-5 years
  • Storage plan: [NA]
  • Battery life: Up to 5 hours of continuous scanning
  • Website

Compare Unique Functions of Each Device

Before choosing a portable ultrasound machine, analyze your practice to identify the types of procedures you’ll perform first, as different probes serve unique functions:

  1. Linear Probe: This flat array probe is ideal for scanning superficial structures like the shoulder, knee, aesthetic areas, vascular regions, and thyroid. Operating at a higher frequency, it offers better image resolution at depths under 10cm.
  2. Curved Probe: Designed for deeper structures such as the abdomen, kidneys, bladder, and hip, the curved probe enables sound wave penetration beyond 10cm. However, it tends to have lower image resolution.
  3. All-in-one Probe: An all-in-one probe that combines both linear and curved functionalities, providing the capabilities of both probe types. An example would be the Butterfly IQ+.
  4. Curved Probe on one end and a Linear Probe on the other: A perfect example is the GE Vscan Air, as it offers the combined benefits of both probe styles within a single unit.
  5. Separate Linear and Curved Probes: The Clarius, Lumify, and Healcerion devices feature separate linear and curved probes.

 

Butterfly IQ+ Clarius GE Vscan Air Healcerion Sonon Mindray TE Air Phillips Lumify
Cost $2699 + $420 annual membership Starting at $3395 + $595 membership Starting at $4765 $3750/probe Not available at this time $6000/probe
Operating System Android or IOS Android or IOS Android or IOS Android, IOS, Windows Android or IOS Android
Available probes One tethered probe Seven wireless probes Wireless dual probe curved and linear) Two wireless probes (curved and linear) Single wireless probe (suitable for POCUS, not MSK) Three tethered probes
Probe technology Integrated CMOS chip Crystals (piezoelectric) Crystals (piezoelectric) Crystals (piezoelectric) Single crystal (piezoelectric) Crystals (piezoelectric)
Telehealth Tele

guidance

Clarius Live My Remote Share No No REACTS
Battery Life Up to 2 hours of continuous scanning Up to 60 minutes of continuous scanning Up to 50 minutes of ongoing scanning Up to 3 hours of continuous scanning (removable battery) Up to 80 minutes of continuous scanning Up to 5 hours of continuous scanning
Warranty 1 year 3 years 3 years 1 year 5 years 3-5 years
Ultrasound Modalities All All – see note below All All – see note below POCUS / non-MSK All – see note below
Website Butterfly Clarius GE Vscan Healcerion Sonon Mindray Philips Lumify

What To Consider When Choosing Your Ultrasound Machine

Here are additional things to remember when selecting a suitable ultrasound machine for you:

    1. Assess your practice focus to make an informed choice on your device.
    2. Highly consider your regular scanning areas. The linear probe is recommended for those focused on thyroids or upper extremities. The curved probe is more suitable if you specialize in hips or scan bladders and kidneys.
    3. All-in-one machines might sacrifice image quality for convenience. You may also research company websites, view their sample images, and seek recommendations from colleagues to make the right selection for your needs.
    4. Online demos allow you to compare features that matter most to you and your practice. This might be helpful for your decision.
    5. The process of selecting your first ultrasound can be overwhelming. Aim for a machine that initially covers 80-85% of your needs, and then gain experience from its use before upgrading to a more advanced unit.
    6. You might outgrow your initial ultrasound over time. Progress is natural, and upgrading as your skills and practice expand is expected. Avoid undue stress during the decision-making process.

Elevate Your Point-of-Care Ultrasound Education Journey with Aeyr

Learning diagnostic point-of-care ultrasound takes time and practice. By combining the use of an ultrasound device with Aeyr’s online courses, you’ll be able to apply the skills you learn with us at your home, office, or clinic. Plus, you can tap into our experts who provide guidance via open lab hours and virtual scanning sessions, as well as image assessment and mentorship all done on a convenient app. It’s easy to start learning today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a handheld ultrasound cost?

A basic handheld ultrasound device can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. However, more advanced and specialized models can range from $10,000 to $30,000 or even higher.

Are handheld ultrasounds accurate?

Handheld ultrasounds can be accurate, but their accuracy may vary depending on various factors. These factors include the quality and capabilities of the specific handheld ultrasound device, the skill and experience of the person operating it, and the specific conditions and circumstances of the ultrasound examination.

How much does the POCUS ultrasound machine cost?

On average, a basic POCUS (Point-of-Care Ultrasound) machine can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. However, more advanced and specialized models can range from $50,000 to over $100,000.

Is there such a thing as a portable ultrasound?

Yes, thanks to technological advancements, portable ultrasound machines have been developed to provide medical professionals with the ability to perform ultrasound examinations in various settings, in remote locations, or during emergencies.

Jeannine Noble PT, MS, RMSK