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How Does a Portable Ultrasound Machine Work?

Portable ultrasound machines work the exact same way that regular ultrasound machines do—they simply have a smaller form factor. As ultrasound technology has advanced, we’re able to accomplish many of the same tasks without a large console. Although there are some circumstances in which a traditional ultrasound may be needed, these days portable ultrasound machines are increasingly common.

Philips cx50 how does portable ultrasound machine work

Philips CX50 Ultrasound Machine User Interface Controls


How Portable Ultrasounds Work

Ultrasound machines are used to generate two-dimensional images of tissues and organs by sending beams of ultrasound waves into the body. A handheld transducer is applied to the skin; this transducer sends out ultrasound waves and then receives them back in the form of echoes. The echoes are what is used to create images—they generate electrical signals and the ultrasound machine uses the speed of sound and the time it takes for each echo to return to the transducer to generate a picture of the area being examined.

During an examination with a portable ultrasound, patients typically lie on an exam table or bed, depending on the setting. A water-based gel is applied to the skin, which allows the transducer to glide smoothly, eliminating air pockets that can interfere with the soundwaves it sends into the body. Portable ultrasounds are painless, noninvasive, and don’t involve ionizing radiation.


Standard vs. Portable Ultrasound Machines

Whether or not an ultrasound is portable, they all work the same way, as described above—by emitting sound waves into the body and rendering an image with the echoes sent back to the transducer. That said, there are a number of different portable ultrasound options that vary in how and where they render diagnostic imaging.

Portable ultrasound used to mean a laptop-sized ultrasound machine that could be wheeled from room to room in a clinic or hospital. Later, handheld ultrasounds were introduced, and now there are portable ultrasounds that are compatible with smartphones and tablets. Ultrasound machines can take many different forms, but their basic function of sending ultrasound waves into the body for forming images remains the same.


Uses for Portable Ultrasound Machines

Portable ultrasound systems have made ultrasound technology practical for settings where space and budget are limited, as well as when mobility is crucial, as when ultrasound scans must be done to evaluate patients in the field by emergency medical personnel. The imaging created by portable ultrasound machines can be used to diagnose pain, swelling, and infection inside the body, to guide biopsies, to examine the heart, and to assess the health of a fetus during pregnancy.

OB/GYN practices were among the first to implement portable ultrasound machines in their clinics, but these days it’s commonplace to find them in cardiac, vascular, radiology, endocrinology, and pediatric settings as well. The portability and affordability of these ultrasounds also make them popular with veterinary practices too, allowing veterinarians to perform imaging onsite rather than having to refer pets out to specialty clinics.

Learn More About Portable Ultrasound Machines

Universal Diagnostic Solutions is your destination for new and refurbished portable ultrasound machines. Contact us to learn more or shop our expansive selection online.

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