A startup called Butterfly Network have created a solid-state ultrasound machine which uses your phone to display the image at a reasonable cost. It could make the technology widely available to clinicians and transform practice at point-of-contact with patients.
This story in MIT Technology Review shows the machine in action.
Traditionally, within the profession, diagnostic ultrasound is most widely used within the musculoskeletal setting. It is typically used to provide accurate diagnosis of injuries as well as guidance for joint injections such as the shoulder and wrist.
Aside from musculoskeletal diagnoses there is an emerging role of thoracic ultrasound (TUS) for the diagnosis of lung and diaphragm disease/dysfunction. As this review of TUS by Hew & Tay suggests this emerging technique has the potential to change healthcare delivery, albeit early days. Respiratory physiotherapists should investigate this further as it will enhance their skill set within a core area of physiotherapy practice.
Regardless of which setting ultrasound is used within the issue of availability and cost of the machine has been a major barrier to practice. Perhaps in a few years diagnostic ultrasound will more common within physiotherapy practice.
Do you use ultrasound in your clinical setting? If so we’d love you hear from you!