Dr. Shaunie Keys, MD
As an obstetrician and gynecologist, ultrasound equipment is essential to my group practice in Kirkland, Washington. I’m one of eight physicians at the Unified Center for Women’s Health and we have three full-time sonographers who are scheduled to use two fully-featured ultrasound systems to examine patients throughout the day.
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to integrate handheld ultrasound into my practice thanks to a long-time friend and neighbour, Dave Willis. A co-founder of a handheld ultrasound company called Clarius, Dave and his team needed some feedback on a new product. So he brought me the Clarius EC7 HD Endocavity Scanner and a C3 HD Curvilinear scanner, which I’m now using regularly in my practice.
Experiencing Baby’s First Ultrasound
The Clarius systems have been ideal for improving first visits with patients at seven to eight weeks of pregnancy; at this point, they haven’t had any ultrasound exams so we haven’t confirmed viability yet. Rather than sending my patients to see a sonographer first, I like to do these first exams myself as it is a great opportunity to connect with patients and their spouses.
Compared to a regular ultrasound system, it’s really easy for all of us to watch the ultrasound exam. I normally use my phone and hand the patient an iPad so she can watch the exam with her partner, who has come in with her. Now with COVID-19, the spouse waits in the car or at home and misses the first experience of seeing the baby. But with Clarius, we can share the exam in real time so the couple can watch each other’s reactions and the exam even when they’re not in the same room.
It’s really great to have the partner share the moment when you first see the baby’s heartbeat. When the patient holds the iPad while watching the exam, it’s like she’s holding and connecting with the baby for the first time.
Super Easy Infection Control
With COVID-19, we’re taking extra precautions with infection control. Our big ultrasound carts and probes with long wires have to be wiped down with cleaners after each exam. It’s a lot faster and easier for me to clean the Clarius scanner and my iPad. It’s small and has no wires to clean and disinfect.
Reduces Stress and Saves Time
Before we got handheld ultrasound scanners, we had to interrupt the sonographers to fit in a patient who may have an ectopic pregnancy or preterm labour symptoms. That means we have to bump the next person in line who has a scheduled appointment and then the sonographer is running late all day.
Now I just grab my unit and start scanning on my phone or iPad. I use Clarius at least three or four times a day to check a quick AFI or if I need to check to make sure the baby is vertex. My partners really want one too and we’ll be looking at a group purchase once we’re back to normal after COVID-19.
One of the best things about Clarius ultrasound is the imaging, which is super crisp and clear. It’s beautiful and really amazing, especially compared to our other portable systems. It’s like night and day. Also, my patients think the technology is incredibly cool. Many of them work for local tech companies and they appreciate the innovation and they’re impressed I know Dave.
Clarius in a Hospital Setting
I had the opportunity to use the first Clarius system when I was working as a hospitalist a couple of years ago. I used it to check fetal positions when checking for breeches and other emergency exams like retained placentas. It works great at the hospital because you don’t have to push a big, huge machine around and discover the battery is dead because someone forgot to plug the machine in. I was able to carry it in my pocket and just run to the room.