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Signostics RT handheld ultrasound review

handheld

Ok this is a device review! I havent been sponsored by the makers to do this!

Introduction:

Signostics is an Adelaide based medical device company and previously had made and marketed a sector scanner for point of care use. It wasnt great as it did not provide real time images. Hence this latest version , RT or real time! I saw their stand recently at Rural Medicines Australia 2015 conference in Adelaide and went to check it out. I was suitably impressed by the discounted price of $4400 that I bought one on the spot!

Did I make a good purchase? Bottom line is Yes!

I have previously owned a GE Vscan as well as a USB powered ultrasound that plugged into your laptop. At my RFDS work we have a Sonosite NanoMaxx and Edge point of care ultrasound devices. The Sonosites are great machines and I do a lot of scanning of all sorts, including nerve blocks and vascular scanning.

So why buy a pocket sized hand held ultrasound? The price/utility equation is tricky in that there is a point when a small screen simply becomes less and less useful for image quality. Also typically you only get one type of probe with these small devices. For example the GE V scan first generation had a phased array probe which was good for cardiac and abdominal but not so good for lung or superficial scanning.

Much as I like the Sonosite Nanomaxx to do prehospital EFAST, it still isnt that portable like a stethoscope is. I want a portable device that is truly easy to carry and do a quick but effective exam.

So does the Signostics fit the bill? IN general Yes! There are some issues which I will mention in the summary but overall its going to work well for my practice in prehospital and retrieval. I can do quick scans and then pull out the bigger Nanomaxx for detailed work or techniques.

Heres what you get out of the box:

Signostics carry bag

Signostics carry bag

IMG_5188

You also get a 8GbmicroSD card, ultrasound jelly and a charger with several adapters for different power sockets. There is an instructional DVD which has mainly pdf documents.

Here are some profile pictures of the device:

The left side panel with scan button, toggle wheel for gain/depth and back function  button

The left side panel with scan button, toggle wheel for gain/depth and back function button

Top covered panel with ( left to right) : flashlight!, micro USB charging port, microSD card slot, headphone jack port, stylus for touchscreen

Top covered panel with ( left to right) : flashlight!, micro USB charging port, microSD card slot, headphone jack port, stylus for touchscreen

Probe profile with scan button

Probe profile with scan button

Turning device on - approx 10 second startup time

Turning device on – approx 10 second startup time

Changing scan defaults menu - useful common options

Changing scan defaults menu – useful common options

3 scanning modes : B, M and PWD. No Colour Doppler!

3 scanning modes : B, M and PWD. No Colour Doppler!

Right femoral vessels imaging. PWD gate adjustable depth with toggle switch

Right femoral vessels imaging. PWD gate adjustable depth with toggle switch

PWD measurement over femoral artery with beat per minute calculation

PWD measurement over femoral artery with beat per minute calculation

Summary : Its a useful handheld ultrasound. The image quality and default settings are decent, better than my first generation GE Vscan. There is no colour Doppler mode though which is disappointing. The imaging quality is not good enough for nerve blocks but it is sufficient for musculoskeletal imaging for fractures and joint dislocations. You can image large vessels easily but I dont think you can rely upon this for line placement under real time USS due to nature of the sector probe. I just dont think you can get an adequate view of the needle but will experiment on a phantom model when I get the chance. I didnt record any lung scanning images nor video but its fine for that, much better than my older GE Vscan was. Price wise this is a good buy for what you get. I got a special conference deal so it cost me $4400 total and it usually sells for approx $5500 I believe. This is still a good deal as the latest GE Vscan is approx $7000.

What I am impressed about the Signostics RT is that the one sector probe manages to provide good quality scanning for a variety of applications. This is difficult to do normally and you usually have to buy a second probe. For example this default probe you get with the Signostics RT can do cardiac, lung and abdominal imaging with good quality. Add the fact that you can image superficial vessels easily, means thats a great advance in probe engineering and processing software. Add in the fact you get 3 modes of ultrasound, sweet deal. I didnt get chance to test it yet but you can do basic obstetric scanning with gestational age calculations and measurements. Overall a good device for rapid point of care assessment without need to pull out a bulkier device and set it up.

There are other devices I have seen this year that come close to my ideal. The Philips Lumify is a USB probe that plugs into an Android tablet or phone. That looked very impressive at SMACC Chicago trade display. However pricing was going to be weird at a monthly subscription! Then I saw the Sonosite tablet ultrasound device at RMA2015 in Adelaide and it looks very good but costs approx $20000!

The Signostics RT is a great Australian designed and made device and fits the brief for a portable pocket ultrasound device that is quick to use and provides a good range of decent quality scanning options with one probe. I will post more updates on this device as I test it further in the field!

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