Portable Ultrasound Machines for COVID-19 Testing at Point of Care
We’ve never dealt with anything like COVID-19 in our lifetimes, which makes both diagnosis and treatment a matter of trial-and-error. You can’t do things by the book when no book exists. Compounding matters, hospitals across the world are overwhelmed with patients without sufficient equipment to go around. One of the strategies aiding in the diagnosis and treatment of novel coronavirus patients is the usage of point-of-care ultrasounds (POCUS) to perform lung scans and screen for symptoms. This type of patient screening can greatly reduce operating costs and risk levels.
Lung Ultrasound Scan using Smart VTI Feature
Why Use POCUS for COVID-19?
With diagnostic tests in short supply, POCUS is being used as an essential tool in diagnosing and triaging patients, particularly in tents and other temporary medical settings where other imaging modalities cannot be transported. We know that not all COVID-19 cases require hospitalization—oxygen levels and lung scans are two simple ways to help hospital staff determine which patients should be given a room and which should be sent to recover under quarantine at home. This type of triage using ultrasounds for COVID-19 testing was first utilized in the hardest-hit areas of Northern Italy and is now being implemented elsewhere.
The focus in COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment is the lungs, but the more we learn about this disease, the more we see how it impacts other systems of the body. POCUS can also be used to assess the heart and monitor cardiac function. When patients are intubated for long periods of time, POCUS aids in monitoring for deep vein thrombosis as well.
Another advantage of POCUS systems is that they are contained inside a protective sheath, so the device can easily be disinfected between patients, something that takes much less time than disinfecting an imaging room. This is crucial when both staff and time are in short supply.
In summary, both the speed and portability of portable ultrasound systems is an asset in a crisis like COVID-19. With the pandemic expected to continue for at least 18 months, or until a vaccine is developed, POCUS and medical staff trained in its use will be in high demand.
Characteristics of Lung Scans in COVID-19 Patients
Because COVID-19 typically infects the peripheral regions of the lungs, ultrasound is an effective imaging tool for diagnosis and treatment monitoring. Per the Point-of-Care Ultrasound Certification Academy, some typical findings in COVID-19 patients include:
- Thickening of the pleural line with pleural line irregularity
- B-lines in multiple patterns, including focal, multifocal, and confluent
- Lesions in the posterior lower fields of both lungs
- Consolidations in a variety of patterns, including multifocal small, non-translobar, and translobar with occasional mobile air bronchograms
- Appearance of A-lines during recovery
Because new standards of care and protocols are developing rapidly, there’s an ever-growing body of literature on the topic of using portable ultrasounds in diagnosing, triaging, and monitoring COVID-19 patients.
Learn More About Portable Ultrasound Options for COVID-19 Screening
Universal Diagnostic Solutions is at the forefront of portable ultrasound technology. If you manage the purchasing decisions for your hospital or clinic and you’d like to speak with someone from our team to help you decide which options are best for your facility’s needs, contact us today.