The origin and evolution of ultrasound technology—and where it’s headed next

Ohad Arazi President and Chief Executive Officer, Clarice.

Are you harnessing the full power of ultrasound to help your patients?

Ultrasound technology can help practitioners diagnose and treat patients in many specialties, from pain management to orthopedic surgery, from needle guidance to diagnostics — and ultrasounds have even been found to be more accurate than nasal swabs in diagnosing Covid-19. But ultrasound will only reach its full potential when it can move out of radiology departments and into the hands of practitioners.

Fortunately, all this is changing. Today, an ecosystem of technology-first companies is working to realize the full potential of ultrasound, giving you better, easier ways to treat your patients. The future of ultrasound will make this technology accessible to every clinician and able to adapt it for their specialty. But where did ultrasound technology come from, and how has it evolved to create tomorrow’s accessible future?

Development of Ultrasound Technology

Today’s medical device industry is witnessing rapid advancements in capability and care as technology-leading companies bring their expertise to the table for advancement and integration. Ultrasound technology is also advancing rapidly—and that’s great news for practitioners looking to better serve their patients. The following is the overall evolution of ultrasound technology origin and direction.


Ultrasound technology was invented in 1956 as a non-invasive way to unlock insight into the human body. However, ultrasound machines are bulky, expensive cart-based systems that take up a lot of space and are difficult to move. As such, they are limited to radiology, cardiology and obstetrics and are primarily used for diagnostic purposes. Patients have to go to an ultrasound system, limiting the use and application of ultrasound.


The advent of portable point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS) systems about two decades ago brought ultrasound imaging to the bedside. Initially, though, these laptop-based systems were primarily used by emergency medicine and critical care physicians. It still takes years of training to be proficient in using the system and interpreting images. However, the use of PoCUS is expanding to more hospital departments and office specialists, such as procedural guidance for anesthesia, surgery, and pain management applications, showing practitioners the benefits of ultrasound beyond radiology.

Pocket PC

Over the past eight years, handheld ultrasound systems have become the fastest-growing segment of the ultrasound market, projected to reach $2.5 billion by 2026. Handheld devices also remove some barriers to entry. Many handheld systems cost a fraction of the cost of laptop and cart-based systems, saving 60% to 90%. They are easier to use, take up little space and can be carried in your pocket. Many handheld ultrasound devices also offer image quality comparable to most mid-range traditional ultrasound systems. Due to the need to replace older systems, many specialists are turning to high-definition handheld options in their practice, including plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists who prefer more portable wireless systems.

AI Integration

Even with handheld systems, more work needs to be done to reduce the learning curve for novice users to use ultrasound imaging. Even advanced users require time and attention to optimize images, which can take their eyes off the patient. That’s why artificial imaging (AI) has become the key to unlocking the enormous potential of handheld ultrasound by automatically optimizing image quality and guiding the user in probe positioning. For example, a handheld ultrasound device could use AI to automatically capture high-quality images of each body part. Clinicians simply place the scanner on part of the abdomen, and the app automatically detects the organ and optimizes the image without intervention. The study found that using ultrasound with AI capabilities could improve practitioner accuracy and reduce false positives by 37.3%.

Ultrasound today

Today, some handheld ultrasound devices are the size of an iPhone and cost just a few thousand dollars, opening up diagnostic and therapeutic options for medical specialties such as pain management and aesthetic medicine. The good news is that the ultrasound market has been changing over the past few decades, from a focus on expensive, bulky systems used by a few people, to myriad, more affordable options, such as small handheld systems that every medical professional can use A profession that improves patient care. The latest developments in ultrasound are driven by an ecosystem of players who are using technological advancements like AI to build the future of patient care.

What is the future of ultrasound

Ultrasound technology will reach its full potential through an ecosystem of partners ready to create solutions and applications for their specialties. Ultrasound will also reach its full potential more quickly if suppliers use open platforms that allow integration of third-party innovations. Focusing more on complete solutions rather than standalone hardware will allow ultrasound innovators to lower barriers to entry in terms of education and instruction in image acquisition, interpretation and procedures.

Are you harnessing the full power of ultrasound to help your patients? Not only can you start using ultrasound today to better serve your patients, but you can help build the future of ultrasound technology into tomorrow.

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