GE Healthcare launches new point-of-care, AI-powered ultrasound aimed at COVID-19 wards

GE Healthcare unveiled its second point-of-care ultrasound in less than a month, with a new artificial intelligence-coupled system designed to support frontline healthcare workers tackling COVID-19.

The compact Venue Fit represents the smallest system in GE’s cart-mounted Venue line of ultrasound devices. Specifically, the company designed it to be easier to clean between patient exams, with a smaller footprint for maneuvering within COVID wards.

Its AI counterpart, meanwhile, will be made available for the entire Venue line, with automated software for scanning the heart, lungs and kidneys. 

This includes real-time measures of ejection fraction, measuring the strength and efficiency of the cardiac muscle by the amount of blood pushed from the heart with each beat, as well as a live image quality metric that tells the technician when they’ve achieved a clear scan. 

A separate, hands-free tool will stitch together panoramic views of the entire lung, and automatically highlight B-lines—the long, white bands within an ultrasound image that resemble the beam of a flashlight, which can be a sign of pneumonia or the lung injuries seen in COVID-19 patients. In addition, a renal diagram helps clinicians select from a list of image labels to help identify suspected kidney infections. 

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GE said it has seen orders for its previous Venue Go bedside system increase more than fivefold in 2020 compared with 2019. Heart and lung ultrasounds are largely faster and more efficient than X-ray and CT scans when treating patients with COVID-19, especially when disinfecting equipment.

And earlier this month, the company raised the curtain on its new hand-held ultrasound device, the VScan Air, which is small enough to be carried around in a clinician’s pocket. Paired with a smartphone, the ultrasound includes two probes for performing both shallow- and deep-tissue scans, as well as exposure to water and cleaning products.