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J Emerg Med. 2011 Feb;40(2):190-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2009.09.006. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Portable ultrasound for remote environments, Part I: Feasibility of field deployment.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.



In field medical operations, rapid diagnosis and triage of seriously injured patients is critical. With significant bulk and cost constraints placed on all equipment, it is important that any medical devices deployed in the field demonstrate high utility, durability, and ease of use. When medical ultrasound was first used in patient care, machine cost, bulk, and steep learning curves prevented use outside of the radiology department. Now, lightweight portable ultrasound is widely employed at the bedside by emergency physicians. The techniques and equipment have recently been extrapolated out of the hospital setting in a wide variety of environments in an effort to increase diagnostic accuracy in the field.


In this review, deployment of lightweight portable ultrasound in the field (by emergency medical services, military operations, disaster relief, medical missions, and expeditions to austere environments) is examined. The feasibility of field deployment and experiences of clinicians using ultrasound in a host of environments are detailed. In addition, special technological considerations such as telemedicine and machine characteristics are reviewed.


The use of lightweight portable ultrasound shows great promise in augmenting clinical assessment for field medical operations. Although the feasibility of the technology has been demonstrated in certain medical and trauma applications, further research is needed to determine the utility of ultrasound use for medical illness in the field.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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