The future of ultrasound: Bright in grayscale!
Ultrasound is an amazing well-developed technology, but it has even more potential that can be unlocked. I see this technology as an elderly in baby shoes: mature, yet making the first steps towards its full capability. In this article, you’ll read about some of the latest developments and my take on it. Don’t forget to leave a comment!
My introduction to ultrasound
I’ve always had an interest in healthcare. To me healthcare is about helping people improve their quality of life. I have tremendous awe and respect for everybody working in healthcare, especially today! My other interests are technology and design. I like to innovate and create. My studies in Industrial Design taught me to combine both in designing for healthcare with a strong emphasis on (the use of) technology. It was during my Master’s that I got in touch with ultrasound for the first time.
The history of ultrasound can be traced back to 1794 (the first to study echolocation among bats, which forms the basis for ultrasound physics)  and the first medical use happened in 1942 . Ultrasound nowadays, is a widespread technology used in medical diagnostics. It makes use of high frequency sound waves, that reflect body structures, to visualize soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons and blood vessels .
An elderly in baby shoes
Even though ultrasound is a mature and well-developed technology, the potential has not yet been used. Today, the technology and its application are rapidly evolving. More diagnostics are shifting towards the use of ultrasound compared to other imaging modalities.
Ultrasound allows clinicians to capture images in real-time, without radiation exposure. Unlike X-ray or other imaging systems that use ionizing radiation . The technology is rapidly improving. Image quality enhances, imaging modes are getting more sophisticated and possibilities to integrate AI are growing. On top of that, ultrasound is increasingly mobile and affordable .
This rise in the adoption of ultrasound devices, combined with the technological advancements is expected to boost the market growth. The global ultrasound device market size was valued at USD 7.9 billion in 2021. It is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 4.5% from 2022 to 2030 .
You could really say ultrasound is an elderly in baby shoes; mature, yet making the first steps towards its real potential.
Enabling new types of ultrasound
With Usono we support the advancement of ultrasound technology by supporting users with smart ultrasound solutions. We do not focus on the technology itself (from a technology perspective), but on the use of ultrasound. Since developments bring the question for wearable ultrasound forward, this is our focus.
Usono’s ProbeFix products enable users to attach an ultrasound probe to the body of the patient. Resulting in ultrasound data (e.g. raw signal or images) while the patient is moving over long periods of time with very high reproducibility. The ProbeFix products are extensively used in many research centers all over the world.
For the more complex research setups, Usono provides custom engineered probe fixation devices to provide in the research needs. Many customers say Usono provides the much-needed solutions to enable the shift from handheld to wearable ultrasound. I’m very proud to receive this feedback! We get requests for new developments of various applications. For instance for clinical use-cases. We’re helping users in the entire development process: from the first steps in the research to implementation in clinical practice.
An ultrasound example from the clinic: Vascular Access
One clear example from the clinic that greatly benefits from probe fixation is the Vascoscope (by Envision medical). The Vascoscope is an ultrasound system designed for easy vascular access. Even though vascular access is the most common invasive procedure, it has a very high primary failure rate. Between 20% and 50% depending on the context of use.
Ultrasound is the golden standard to reduce the failure rate. However, it is seldomly used due to the complexity of having to hold the probe in place and performing the cannulation simultaneously. This exact problem was noted at the hemodialysis department of University Medical Center Utrecht. Resulting in the development of the Vascoscope and start-up company Envision Medical. The first Vascoscopes are used in clinical setting with positive user feedback.
The future of ultrasound
The future of ultrasound looks bright. New emerging technologies enable ultrasound to become the number one image modality for many clinical indications.
The context of use will shift from the clinic to home. From expert users to laymen (or minimally trained people). And from quick diagnosis to monitoring over longer periods of time. Some exciting examples already exist by Pulsenmore, NovaSignal and Caption health.
I’m super excited to be part of this revolution in healthcare. And to contribute to increasing the quality of life for many people. Will you join me? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
Contact me to talk about Usono, Envision (Vascoscope) or ultrasound in general.