Second point-of-care ultrasound unit debuts

October 16, 2007

SonoSite unveiled its second hand-carried ultrasound unit in as many weeks. This one, like the one that came out Oct. 1, is focused on point-of-care ultrasound. Unlike the M-Turbo, however, which can handle a broad range of bedside applications, the S-FAST (Focused Assessment with Ultrasound for Trauma) was designed specifically for emergency medicine.

SonoSite unveiled its second hand-carried ultrasound unit in as many weeks. This one, like the one that came out Oct. 1, is focused on point-of-care ultrasound. Unlike the M-Turbo, however, which can handle a broad range of bedside applications, the S-FAST (Focused Assessment with Ultrasound for Trauma) was designed specifically for emergency medicine.

S-FAST marks a significant change in strategy for SonoSite, which in recent years had focused much of its marketing efforts on radiological or cardiovascular applications. Unveiled Oct. 8 at the American College of Emergency Physicians meeting in Seattle, the battery-operated system is being positioned as a radically new emergency tool.

Distinguishing the unit are its "zero footprint" and simplicity. A special mount on the bottom of the 8.35-pound unit allows S-FAST and its built-in 10.4-inch LCD display to be attached to an IV pole, wall, or ceiling.

"It's fairly unique in that respect," said Tom Dugan, SonoSite senior vice president of global marketing and U.S. sales. "You don't have a cart or stand to roll up to a patient."

This capability is especially handy in an emergency medicine environment, where equipment can get in the way of staff. Keeping the design simple also allows rapid patient evaluation.

S-FAST has just two control buttons, one for depth and one for gain. Dials and menus have been stripped to their essentials, according to the company. The sealed interface allows for easy cleaning and sanitization.

The unit is capable of assisting in the diagnosis of injuries to internal organs and internal bleeding, as well as the placement of central venous catheters and intravenous lines, according to the company.

S-FAST uses the same imaging and processing platform as the M-Turbo system. The user interface, software, and controls are optimized to address the intensity of emergency medicine.

S-FAST is built around the same computing engine as M-Turbo, a core component that runs 16 times faster than the one underlying the MicroMaxx system, SonoSite's previous flagship product. This engine is based on DaVinci, a Texas Instruments technology, which was designed to handle demanding digital video applications. Also, like M-Turbo, S-FAST runs on Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0, which allows boot times under 15 seconds.

When S-FAST begins shipping, which is expected by the end of this year, it will be equipped with phased, curved, and linear-array transducers to support abdominal, cardiac, vascular, venous access, small parts, and ob/gyn exams and applications. All are interchangeable with SonoSite's new M-Turbo system.