New Ultrasound Gadget Fits in Palm of Doctor's Hand

When Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor of, first took a look at GE’s new Vscan device, he was doubtful the pocket-size ultrasound would give him a clear and accurate image.

But Alvarez, who is also chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, used the Vscan to look at a pregnant woman’s unborn child, he was pleasantly surprised.

“Look how clear this image is,” he said, cradling the device in his hand. “This is amazing. I could use this.”

Marketed under GE’s healthymagination campaign, Vscan provides “immediate, non-invasive information about what is happening inside the body and offers the image quality that until recently was only available as a console ultrasound, which could speed patient diagnoses and reduce patient wait-times,” said Tricia O’Neil, critical marketing manager at GE Healthcare.

The Vscan, which was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is intended for primary care physicians, cardiologists, critical care technicians and gynecologists.

Its small size makes it easy for doctors to transport it from room-to-room and even use it outside the office. In fact, doctors used the Vscan on athletes in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“With a fully charged battery, you can use Vscan for up to an hour of continuing scanning,” O’Neil said. “If you used the device for two minutes per person, it is good for up to 30 patients.”

The Vscan device has many of the same features as its larger counterpart – and a few extras: doctors can make voice annotations on the Vscan, and it can be linked to a personal computer for export of data.

Like any other ultrasound console, the Vscan can take basic measurements directly on the device, O’Neil added.

“By using it as an adjunct to the physical exam, it enables a better opportunity to have more answers for your patients quicker,” O’Neil said.