A Brief History of Medical Ultrasound

When we first introduced the Clarius Handheld Ultrasound scanner in March 2016, the concept of truly portable ultrasound was very new and surprising to many.  But when you consider that medical ultrasound imaging has followed the same trend as personal computers, the miniaturization of ultrasound systems is a natural progression. As computers have become smaller and more powerful, so have ultrasound systems.

  • In the 1940s the concept of a personal computer did not really exist. Back then, a single computer could occupy the entire room full of electronics.
  • By the early 70s, research institutes and universities started to use single-person computers.
  • By the 80s, companies introduced personal computers.
  • In the 90s, personal computers became mainstream.
  • Further miniaturization of electronics and computer system led to the introduction of smartphones and tablets on the turn of the century. Today, more than one third of the world population own and carry a smartphone.

1st generation of ultrasound scanners

  • Large and bulky – size of a refrigerators in the 1980s, with a large keyboard and bulky CRT monitor
  • Mainly available in hospitals inside a dedicated scanning room where only highly trained medical professionals had access to them.
  • Clinical applications limited to Cardiology, Gynecology and obstetrics, Radiology, Surgery, and Urology.

2nd generation of ultrasound scanners

  • Introduction of laptop computers brought a second generation of portable and laptop-based ultrasound solutions.
  • New portability made ultrasound more accessible and helped widespread adoption.
  • Applications expanded to anesthesiology, emergency medicine, and musculoskeletal applications.

3rd generation of ultrasound scanners

  • As smart phones became more popular around 2010, we started to see the third generation of ultrasound scanners.
  • Manufacturers started to leverage the computational power, portability, and popularity of smart phones and introduced app-based ultraportable ultrasound devices.
  • Now ultrasound is more affordable and accessible.
  • Health practitioners are using ultrasound in their private offices, ambulances, helicopter and rural areas.

At Clarius, we’re excited about continuing to push the boundaries of the latest technology available to make clinical ultrasound even more accessible and easy to use for all medical professionals. To learn more about Clarius ultrasound scanners visit our scanners page.

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