GE is calling their Vscan the stethoscope of the 21st century. Vscan is portable as a cell phone and supposedly as powerful as a large ultrasound console. This remains to be seen. It can be used to look inside a patients body and instantly see fluid around the heart, or see a baby in the breech position. The Vscan, not yet commercially availiable, could improve the way medicine is practiced everywhere, from makeshift village clinics to emergency rooms and in the battle field. The size of the Vscan will no doubt be of great use to medical personnel called to these remote locations.
In the last twenty years the Ultrasound Technicians have used machines that were big and immensly bulky, heavy and requires an outlet nearby, not to mention the cost of one on these big machines, 20,000 to 250,000 dollars. It has been hinted that the new Vscan hand held device will be marketed during 2010. No pricing information has been anticipated as of yet.
Ultrasound was first introduced as a medical application in the 1950's. The cost of the devices have kept them from becoming universally available, despite the benefits to both patients and clinicians.
George K. Lewis, the inventor of the Vscan, envisions his ultrasound device to help aim pulses of energy to temporarily seal gunshot wounds in the battlefiled and to help doctors to do rapid diagnoses in emerging and rapidly changing conditions in emergency room situations. He also sees the low cost of his device bringing a much needed tool to researchers at a low cost that will allow research of other applications of ultrasound
The Vscan is a microphone like wand attached to the main body of the device that sends and receives sound wave data upon contact with the body. It is then translated into an image on the Vscan screen for analysis by the physician. It can zoom in and out, pan right to left and other image controls are taken care of with a familiar dial key interface on the lower half of the clam- shell body. Images are rendered in real time in black and white, but color overlays can be added.
General Electric has confirmed the company will next embark on a clinical study involving different situations and see how it will impact on patients care.
Ultra portable ultrasound would truely be an improvement in certain situations for many physicians and patients around the world and will soon be taught in Ultrasound Schools and used widely by physicians just like the stethoscope was decades ago.