A pocket mobile echocardiography (PME) device called the Vscan, recently introduced by GE, could come to replace the stethoscope. It’s the size of a cell phone, portable, with inherent wireless potential and has wide-ranging—revolutionary—possibilities that stretch well beyond cardiovascular care.
A recent study led by Dr. Eric Topol at STSI works to fill the void in public data available comparing the accuracy of PME to standard transthoracic echocardiography (TTE)—information that had not been previously available. In an objective, cross-sectional comparison with TTE, physicians could rapidly and accurately visualize most echocardiographic measurements on PME, overall showing a very favorable comparison with a routine full echocardiogram in a fraction of the time. Particularly with regard to those that were not as accurately visualized, it must be noted that the study’s protocol may have biased TTE (see paper for details).
PME seems poised to more extensively fulfill the function of the pocket stethoscope, providing quick, portable, and non-invasive imaging of cardiac structures. TTE may carry fees of $1,500 and an average of 40 minutes of an ultrasonographer’s time, while the Vscan carries a comparably inexpensive one-off $7,900 price tag. In short, PME studies are relatively quick and cheap, and have the potential to reduce the need for unnecessary TTE.
A PDF of the paper is available for download