Point-of-care ultrasound stands up to traditional devices in peer-reviewed journal article

December 15, 2021

Handheld devices offer unique advantages to equine practitioners and comparable quality

Despite nearly 50 years of ultrasound use in equine practice, the size and cost of traditional equipment limits its availability and practical use by many general practitioners, said Lindsay Deacon, DVM, associate veterinarian at the Littleton Equine Medical Center in Littleton, Colo., and the lead author of a recent article in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 

Handheld ultrasound devices are making it easier — and more affordable — to use the technology in day-to-day practice, although many practitioners are skeptical of the image quality. That’s what Dr. Deacon aimed to demonstrate in the peer-reviewed journal article: A side-by-side comparison of hospital-grade equipment compared to handheld devices. 

The pictorial essay found that pocket-sized ultrasound equipment can be used to obtain images of common structures and pathology, with many images comparable to those captured with hospital-grade devices. In particular, handheld devices are useful for point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) in ambulatory settings that can often lack electricity and/or require evaluation of immobile animals. 

“People are still skeptical,” Dr. Deacon said. “Providing examples can be helpful to show how handheld equipment can be diagnostic. It’s remarkable that we can image almost every part of the horse’s body with it. To me, the purposes are different. Handheld equipment isn’t necessarily a replacement of more traditional ultrasound, but POCUS can be very beneficial in specific settings.” 

The article compares images captured with hospital-based ultrasound equipment to those captured from two handheld devices, including the Butterfly iQ Vet*. Images included:

  • Late-gestation fetus 
  • FLASH windows, which is a common POCUS protocol for colic patients
  • Normal musculoskeletal structures, including the metacarpus/metatarsus and stifle
  • Eyes 
  • C1-C2 spinal tap 

The Butterfly iQ Vet was launched in 2019, which brought the first handheld, single-probe, whole-body ultrasound system from human to veterinary medicine. The iQ Vet transmits fast, high-quality images directly to a compatible iPhone or iPad. 

In her experience, Dr. Deacon deploys handheld ultrasound in situations such as: horses that can’t be trailered; rechecks in isolation units; and in the field where electricity is unavailable. With training, she said the equipment can be used by veterinary interns and experienced operators alike. 

“Our new grads have loved the Butterfly,” she said. “It’s so helpful out in the field if you have a colicky horse that is down and can’t get up. Our interns can record videos and text them to the other doctors or remote dial us in to view the ultrasound in real time. It is quite a spectacular tool for both learning and providing the best care to our patients.” 

Veterinarians can request more information about the Butterfly iQ Vet at: https://vet.butterflynetwork.com/. 

About Butterfly Network 

Founded by Dr. Jonathan Rothberg in 2011 and recently listed on the NYSE through a merger with Longview Acquisition Corp (NYSE: BFLY), Butterfly Network is the creator of the world's most advanced handheld, single-probe, whole-body veterinary ultrasound system, Butterfly iQ+ Vet. Butterfly’s mission is to enable universal access to superior medical imaging, and part of that mission is to enable the scanning of every animal at each veterinary visit. Through its proprietary Ultrasound-on-ChipTMtechnology, Butterfly is paving the way for earlier detection and remote management of health conditions around the world. The Butterfly iQ+ Vet can be purchased online by veterinary practitioners in approved countries at the store or by contacting sales. 

Veterinary Business Contact 

Jenna Mutch 
Sr. Director and Head of Commercial, Veterinary 

*For veterinary professionals only 
Ultrasound-on-Chip is a trademark of the Butterfly Network. 
© 2021 Butterfly Network, Inc.