GE's Vscan puts ultrasound tech in docs' pockets

GE Healthcare announces the commercial release of a new, smartphone-size imaging tool that lets physicians peer inside the body at a moment's notice.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
2 min read

GE Healthcare

GE Healthcare on Monday announced the commercial release of a new, smartphone-size imaging tool that lets physicians carry ultrasound technology in their pockets.

The group says its Vscan imaging device is now commercially available after receiving clearance by the FDA in the U.S. and getting the CE Mark from the European Union and the Medical Device License from Health Canada.

Specifically, Vscan is cleared as a prescription device for ultrasound imaging, measurement, and analysis in the clinical applications of abdominal, cardiac (adult and pediatric), urological, fetal/OB, pediatric, and thoracic/pleural motion and fluid detection.

Early trial user Dr. Anthony N. DeMaria at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine reports:

Having Vscan at my disposal at all times has allowed me to use ultrasound in a number of settings and with patients that I wouldn't have anticipated before--from the ICU to the outpatient clinic as well as with ambulatory patients....Vscan is more than a simple diagnostic tool. The handheld device should help physicians make treatment decisions more quickly.

Because physicians can now peer inside the body without setting up ultrasound appointments at later dates, clinicians may indeed be able to diagnose and treat patients faster. Vscan, which weighs less than a pound, boasts image quality that was until recently only available via console ultrasounds.

The device also comes with a battery charger station and battery life of one hour of scanning (or up to 30 patients if each averages a two-minute scan); a USB docking station for easy image uploading; voice annotation; and an online portal with training tools and trouble shooting.

Vscan is currently priced at $7,900 per unit. Its application in disaster scenarios--Haiti comes to mind--could prove profoundly useful, with battery life being the first-gen device's biggest obstacle in the world of mobile care.