High-Resolution Wireless Ultrasound
Authors’ Disclosure Statement: Dr. Hirahara reports that he receives consultant, royalty, and research support from Arthrex and is a medical advisor to Clarius Mobile Health. Mr. Andersen reports no actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to this article.
Arthrex Synergy MSK Ultrasound by Clarius(http://www.synergy-ultrasound.com/)
Arthrex Synergy MSK Ultrasound by Clarius is a new wireless ultrasound scanner that can connect to any iOS or Android device through a secure WiFi Direct connection. The scanner sets up the connection to an app on the device. Ultrasound and wireless technology have been around for decades, but combinations thereof have produced poor results. The main challenge has been to create and wirelessly transmit high-quality images without latency to a display while maintaining a reasonably sized transducer. Handheld ultrasound transducers scan effectively and process the scanned information in compact form. Recent advances in image processing and proprietary imaging algorithms now allow creation of high-resolution images comparable to those produced by most midrange or high-range machines costing $30,000 to $50,000. This new unit costs about $12,000. Ultrasound use has increased over the past decade. Numerous studies have found improved accuracy, efficacy, and outcomes of injections, and reduced pain, with ultrasound-guided injections over blind injections, and cost savings over magnetic resonance imaging.1-12
Three scanners are capable of targeting different tissue types and depths. We prefer the Synergy MSK Linear Ultrasound by Clarius, a linear transducer that can evaluate tissue to depths of 7 cm and use frequencies from 4 MHz to 13 MHz. Its battery holds a standby charge for 7 days and can be actively used for 45 minutes. The unit has a magnesium shell; with the battery removed, the unit can be completely immersed in liquid without being damaged, which allows for easy cleaning and, potentially, sterilization with a soak solution. Color Doppler (for blood-flow assessment) and proprietary advanced needle visualization technology will be available in June.
The app is simply controlled with typical smart-device gestures. Depth control requires a finger swipe, and zoom takes a pinch. Other controls, such as optimal gain and frequency settings, are automated. Images and videos can be stored on the device and uploaded either to the Clarius Cloud or to a PACS (picture archiving and communication system) device. New features will allow the device to use a Synergy arthroscopy tower (Arthrex) as its display for surgeons and anesthesiologists in the surgical suite.
This technology finally allows ultrasound to be used in the operating room without the hassles of cumbersome machines and the potential contamination by the sleeves covering the cord that connects the transducer and the base unit (Figure 1).
Recent studies have demonstrated new ultrasound-guided surgical techniques for biceps tenodesis,4 anterolateral ligament reconstruction,13 medial patellofemoral ligament repair or reconstruction,14 and medial collateral ligament internal bracing.4
This small device can also be easily used on sports fields, as it can be carried in a pocket with a smart phone or tablet. With its 10- to 15-second start-up, it is readily available and allows for immediate evaluation of a player. No longer does a player need to be taken off the field for a radiograph. The same advantage of portability means the unit is appropriate for emergency department physicians and staff.
Surgical pearl: Overall, ultrasound is an imaging technology that has improved the accuracy and efficacy of injections. Wireless capability, portability, and versatility with high-resolution images improve this modality further and extend our reach into surgical, office, hospital, and sports settings. The ease, convenience, and reasonable price of high-resolution wireless ultrasound make it an attractive tool for physicians, nursing staff, athletic trainers, and physical therapists.