A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

If you can't get the patient scheduled promptly for imaging tests, bring the tests to the bedside.

That's the story behind the launch of a hand-held ultrasound system from Royal Philips Electronics (Andover, Massachusetts), the Philips CX50 CompactXtreme, designed for cardiologists to use at the bedside.

Philips says the compact system combines the image quality expected of a traditional, full-size system with the convenience of portability.

"Following extensive research into clinicians' needs, we've designed a laptop-sized system that can help them get to patients quickly — no matter where they are in the hospital or clinic — and which can produce high quality images regardless of the difficulty of the situation at hand," said Anne LeGrand, senior VP and general manager, Ultrasound, for Philips Healthcare.

"Clinicians told us that small, portable systems are beneficial, as long as the image quality can help them make a confident diagnosis. If poor image quality from a handheld system results in inconclusive data, repeat exams may be needed at the cost of additional time and money. The CX50 was designed to consistently deliver high-quality images, even in technically challenging patients."

The CX50 CompactXtreme includes Philips' PureWave transducer, which the company says improves penetration in difficult-to-image patients and reduces clutter so clinicians can view fine structures in excellent detail.

It also features Philips XRES adaptive image processing for reduced speckle and haze inherent with ultrasound imaging. As a result, images are virtually free from noise and have extraordinary clarity and edge definition, according to the company.

Thomas Buck, MD, associate professor of medicine, University of Essen, West German Heart Center (Gesamthochschule, Germany), said, "The combination of PureWave technology and XRES processing enables the system to deliver the same image quality as full-size systems, allowing full echo data analysis from a portable system without any compromises."

The CX50 has a cart designed for the system, for maneuvering throughout the hospital. The system includes Philips' user interface, iSCAN automatic optimization and on-cart quantification software, to maximize ease of use for clinicians.

The CX50 CompactXtreme supports adult transthoracic and transesophageal cardiology applications.

Some of the other companies in the hand-held ultrasound space include:

• SonoSite (Bothell, Washington) is the company most exclusively focused on hand-held ultrasound, making a variety of systems, used in a range of settings: radiology, OB/GYN, emergency medicine, acute and critical care, surgery, cardiology and anesthesia.

• Siemens Healthcare (San Francisco) makes a variety of ultrasound technologies and last spring launched its smallest ultrasound system, the Acuson P10 ultrasound system. A little larger than a common PDA, it weighs 1.6 pounds and fits into a lab coat pocket. It delivers on-demand ultrasound imaging and is intended for complementary initial diagnostic care and triage, particularly in emergency care, cardiology and obstetrics.

• Verathon (Bothell, Washington) makes the BladderScan BVM 6500, which measures both bladder volume ultrasound-estimated bladder weight (UEBW) non-invasively. It is designed to assist in diagnosis of bladder hypertrophy secondary to obstruction, predicated on a correlation between UEBW and bladder outlet obstruction.