The performance of ultrasonographic examinations on a personal computer seems to come into perspective with the introduction of the world's smallest and lightest ultrasonic unit in notebook format at Medica 98. The visitors of the annual World Forum for Doctors' Surgeries and Hospitals in Düsseldorf were offered the world premiere of this portable device for use in emergencies.
The newly designed unit outperforms the conventional ultrasonic equipment five times in weight. This ultra-light capacity turns the portable device into a very efficient tool for urgent call-outs, home visits to patients, and consultations in veterinary medicine. Veterinary surgeons indeed often operate in the farmer's stable or in the field.
The designers have "borrowed" the lightweight structure from the production methods applied in laptop computer manufacturing. First, the unit was fitted with a little, flat screen developed by means of the luminous crystal technology. Further miniaturization reduced the overall weight to 14 kilograms.
In spite of its compact size and feather-weight, the apparatus incorporates a series of leading-edge technical features, such as for instance an ingenious colour coupler for realistic imaging of the bloodstream. In this regard, the marketing of the system could mean a spectacular breakthrough for PC-ultrasonic appliance.
The portable unit allows the physician to perform an on-the-spot ultrasonic diagnosis in an ambulance or even in a helicopter. Doctors are able to take the device with them on house visits to bedridden patients, since the flat screen can be easily folded in. Emergency cases however will constitute the primary use for this kind of ambulatory ultrasound examination.