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Handheld ultrasound overview.

Innovation in handheld ultrasound is revolutionizing the use of ultrasound by healthcare professionals and helping to enable more personalized care for patients worldwide.

Where traditional console ultrasound systems can be limited by access and price; pocket-sized handheld ultrasound provides clinicians with a tool to complement the physical exam for quick assessments.

Handheld ultrasound provides additional value as an easy-to-use, lightweight, and portable ultrasound tool clinicians can have on hand to evaluate and triage patients, enabling them to conduct examinations and make decisions more quickly.

At an enterprise level, handheld ultrasound can help improve healthcare outcomes and lower costs by reducing patient wait times and offering a more efficient workflow. It supports increased confidence by improving clinical evaluation, management, patient follow-up and referral to specialists, or in emergencies can help avoid unnecessary referrals to additional care.

Benefits of handheld ultrasound.


Quick insights

Accelerate treatment decisions.

Handheld ultrasound enables you to make quick diagnostic decisions to help triage patients quickly.


Greater efficiency

Handheld ultrasound enables diagnostic assessments.Handheld ultrasound enables diagnosis at the point of care, helping healthcare professionals avoid further investigations.



The power to diagnose and act in the palm of your hand. Handheld ultrasound fits in your pocket, making it extremely portable and convenient.


Improve patient experience

Increase patient engagement and follow-through.Handheld ultrasound accelerates decisions to help reduce patient wait times, travel burden, and costs.


Wherever you need it

Whether in a physician’s office or in an air ambulance… Handheld ultrasound enables you to have diagnostic capabilities whereverl you need them.


Improved workflow

Achieve a flexible wireless workflow. With handheld ultrasound at the bedside, you can improve patient management through streamlined decisions.


Handheld ultrasound – what you need to know.

Use of handheld ultrasound as part of a physical exam may improve patient care.

Handheld ultrasound is valuable in facilitating fast decisions, enabling clinicians to see what they could only feel or hear prior to the ultrasound exam.

Delivering fast information for decision making, handheld ultrasound helps clinicians optimize healthcare operations, services, and experience.


Clinical use examples.

Handheld ultrasound is versatile and can be used in
various care areas and situations, including:

Key features of handheld ultrasound.

Handheld ultrasound solutions offer a variety of capabilities and features. It’s important to consider the ones that would be most valuable and relevant for your care area and practice. Here are some of the key features to consider:

Deep scanning

Robust scanning needed for deeper underlying tissues.


For a dedicated handheld ultrasound option.

Data transfer

Securely store, share, and collaborate.

Shallow scanning

Lightweight scanning for quick superficial imaging.


For greater convenience and portability.

Ease of use

Learn quickly and incorporate into your daily workflow.


Extending the functionality of your handheld ultrasound.

Data security

Ensure that information is secure for privacy and compliance.


Education and support to ensure you get the most from your system.

Clear images

High-quality imaging that enables faster treatment decisions.

Immediate imaging. Immediate insight.

See GE HealthCare’s Vscan family of high-performance handheld ultrasound systems in action.

Schedule a demo

Frequently asked questions.

Handheld ultrasound is a way to provide improved quality health services for patients. These devices are typically smaller, more cost-effective than other traditional console ultrasound systems, and able to support patient assessments right at the point of care.

When considering a handheld ultrasound purchase, factor in the potential benefits to the patients as well as access to training and support. In addition, calculate your expected efficiency gains and projected return on investment (ROI). For example, reducing unneeded testing and decreasing diagnostic test turnaround times can significantly help your productivity to increase.

Yes, various studies have been conducted. One study has shown that in one out of every three patients, adding handheld ultrasound to routine clinical examination has changed, added to, or confirmed an important diagnosis.2

Another study concluded that handheld ultrasound can reduce the number of unnecessary exams. 61% of patients who would have been referred for a full echo exam following physician exam were sent home instead because of what exams revealed.5
Learn more

Non-portable ultrasound can play a critical role among an organization’s health technology. With large ultrasound machines, though, locating the machine and wheeling the machine to the patient’s bedside may take time. Or, in certain cases, ultrasound is offered only in certain hospital wards, requiring time for the patient to relocate.

With handheld ultrasound, you can keep the device in your pocket throughout the day, using it as needed on the spot. The easy and quick access helps you quickly triage patients and make fast clinical decisions, potentially saving precious time, treating a higher number of patients, and minimizing the need for costly and invasive imaging procedures.

Ensure your patients have access to the right care at the right time – providing critical visual information at your fingertips with its remarkable image quality. Vscan Air™ may help you quickly decide on next steps, saving your patients’ time with more accurate referrals.2,3,4

Portable ultrasound machines are mobile systems that can be used at a patient’s bedside or other clinical settings. Although they are portable, they are not necessarily handheld or wireless. They are often cart-based, laptop-based, or tablet-based, in contrast to the console-style of stationary machines. Portable ultrasound machines provide the mobility to travel with clinicians and to image patients wherever they may be.

Handheld ultrasound is a subset of portable ultrasound. Handheld systems are typically pocket-sized, fit in the palm of your hand, and can be conveniently carried by healthcare professionals throughout the day. Certain handheld devices are wireless and battery- powered, facilitating mobility, making them even more convenient, and enabling healthcare professionals to make decisions faster.

When it’s easy to quickly see within patients’ bodies, handheld ultrasound helps you to quickly triage patients and make fast clinical decisions by ruling in or out a wide variety of acute conditions for patients.

It can be an essential time saver in the emergency department or in the ambulance fitting seamlessly into the workflow. In this way, handheld devices are effective for many emergency ultrasound situations.

Handheld ultrasound helps you accelerate clinical decisions and perform guided interventions such as fluid drainage or securing central venous access in potentially life-threatening situations.

Handheld ultrasound devices tend to be priced lower than larger, non-portable ultrasound machines. And the cost-effectiveness of handheld ultrasound doesn’t stop there.

For healthcare organizations, handheld ultrasound can help reduce resource consumption by minimizing more expensive imaging exams like X-ray, CT scans, or MRIs.

Using a cost-effective ultrasound solution can translate into more efficient clinical processes. Handheld ultrasound should be for healthcare organizations and professionals that prioritize increasing asset performance and reducing healthcare costs.

Although ultrasound is faster, cheaper than other methods of medical imaging such as a CT scan or MRI, it is underutilized as a medical diagnostic tool. Handheld ultrasound is helping to change that.

Expanded Applications
With the introduction of handheld ultrasound, the application of ultrasound across care areas is expanding. For example, during the COVID-19 global health crisis, handheld ultrasound was found to be an important tool in triaging patients right at the bedside in order to accelerate care. It is likely that this trend of broader ultrasound usage will continue, with healthcare professionals becoming increasingly skilled in applying ultrasound in a greater variety of care areas and situations.

Continued Miniaturization
Ultrasound technology and devices are following a path of continued miniaturization, with increasing computing power. However, it’s not simply a case that the smaller the screen, the better. With smaller sizes handheld devices are more portable and easier to carry around with you throughout the day, yet the screen can play a critical role in the scanning and diagnosis process and so needs to be of sufficient size. With increased computing power, image quality (regardless of screen size) should continue to improve over time, making images clear for accurate diagnoses to be made.

Wireless Technology
Over time, wireless technology will become more pervasive with handheld ultrasound systems. This will enhance portability, ease of use, and ability to clean the device.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Intelligent Learning Technologies
Clinicians expect critical visual information to help enable more accurate and confident clinical decisions for the next step in diagnosis. With this in mind, AI and other intelligent learning technologies will continue to play a role in the further evolution of handheld ultrasound capabilities, most likely seen with enhancements in the area of automated measurements. Technology may also be used to minimize subjective operator tendencies.

Network of Users and Experts
As the world around us increases in interconnectivity, expanded networks of handheld ultrasound users and experts may provide support, collaboration, and secondary opinions when needed.

Image Quality and Ease-of-Use
As part of the above trends, expect image quality and ease-of-use to further improve over time, making handheld ultrasound even more convenient. Handheld ultrasound is changing the game, making ultrasound more accessible for many healthcare professionals across clinical specialties.

1. The device has been verified for limited use outside of professional healthcare facilities. Use is restricted to environmental properties described in the user manual.
2. Andersen & Dalen – Diagnostic Influence of Routine Point-of-Care-Pocket-size Ultrasound Examinations Performed by Medical Residents – J Ultrasound Med.
3. Filopei & Kory 2014 – Impact of Pocket Ultrasound Use by Internal Medicine House Staff in the Diagnosis of Dyspnea.
4. Maw & Soni 2018 – Inpatient Notes: Why Should Hospitalists Use Point-of-Care Ultrasound? – Annals for Hospitals
5. Zamorano & Cardim 2011 – Vscan demonstrates its utility in augmenting cardiac auscultation, impacting course of treatment. ULTP-05130-08.11-EN-US,DOC1015625 10/21