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Hand-Held POCUS Lung Imaging Comparable to Full-Sized Systems

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 08 Oct 2020
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Image: The Butterfly iQ point of care ultrasound scanner (Photo courtesy of Butterfly Network)
Image: The Butterfly iQ point of care ultrasound scanner (Photo courtesy of Butterfly Network)
A pocket-sized point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) scanner powered by a smartphone works as well as a cart-based scanner for lung imaging of patients with COVID-19, according to a new study.

Researchers at Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese (AOUS, Siena, Italy) and the University of Siena (Italy) conducted a study to evaluate how the Butterfly iQ, a small POCUS scanner made by Butterfly Network (New York, NY, USA), compares to a standard high-end ultrasound scanner, the Venue GO, a cart-based scanner made by GE Healthcare (Chicago, IL, USA), in the evaluation of lung involvement in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.

In all, 437 paired lung ultrasound readings were performed on 34 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The lung ultrasound scans were conducted on the same day, with 14 scans performed on severe, 11 on moderate, and nine on mild COVID-19 patients. No significant differences were found between the high-end and the portable POCUS scanner, with lung ultrasound scores in the patients with mild respiratory impairment significantly lower than in the moderate and severe patients. The study was published on September 21, 2020, in Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology.

“The results of the portable scanner were practically identical to the high-end scanner in the assessment of lung interstitial syndrome,” concluded lead author David Bennett, MD, and colleagues. “In addition, the scores were comparable for most individual pulmonary regions, including the left and right side and vertical location. A small difference was found between the systems for horizontal position, and a practically negligible difference in the posterior side of the thorax.”

The Butterfly iQ is a multi-mode (M-mode, B-mode, and Color Doppler) ultrasound device less than 15 centimeters long and weighing just 313 grams. It is powered by capacitive micro-machined ultrasonic transducer (CMUT) technology, which replaces the traditional piezoelectric transducer with a single silicon chip that incorporates an array of 9,000 programmable microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors. An integrated 400 mAh Lithium Ion Battery provides up to two hours of continuous use. The Butterfly iQ connects via a USB or lightening cable to a standard handheld Apple iPhone or iPad mobile device.

Related Links:
Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese
University of Siena
Butterfly Network
GE Healthcare



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