POCUS: A Wonder of Medicine Continuing to Reshape Healthcare in Our World
The Wonders of the World—lists compiling the world’s most spectacular natural and man-made phenomena. These compilations denote the magnificent and grandeur of the human mind. They hold evidence that nature alone isn’t responsible for changing the very fabric and heartbeat of our universe. Humanity has all ability to leave its mark on the world, enhancing its beauty and transforming it for good.
Medicine has seen its share of great wonders. Medical history constantly points to the innovations and advancements that sustain, support, bring, and give life. There is no more glorious amazement sweeping the world of yesterday, today, and tomorrow than that which allows the human heart to continue on. The medical field has given its share of awe-inspiring wonders and will proceed in doing so until the end of time.
Today, the professionals who dedicate themselves to the health and well-being of humankind are ensuring that one medical device indeed makes the list of remarkable phenomena. Not new to the field, but its growth and impact in recent years have taken the globe by storm, point-of-care-ultrasound (POCUS). This little wonder packs an enormous punch as it is on an endless quest to show the world what it is made of.
The complete suite of POCUS benefits is yet to be seen. The pocket-sized modality is nonstop in revealing just how much it is here to save lives by reducing diagnostic time, diminishing healthcare disparities, increasing procedural efficiencies, and creating accessibility where access was once nonexistent. And this is the shortlist of advantages.
What captures attention and causes us to marvel in response is the immeasurable amount of improvements POCUS has made to medicine and patient care. POCUS is staking its claim as the predominantly used modality in healthcare. A BioSpace article reviewing top POCUS trends predicts that by 2025, the market size for this small device will reach a whopping three billion dollars globally. Its capabilities spanned all imaginations. Originally developed to protect our military on the battlefield, POCUS has found its way across specialties and medical disciplines.
It is a powerful tool that has significantly impacted emergency medicine, allowing swift diagnosis of patients’ conditions and rapid development of treatment plans. Witness of this emerged during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers relied on lung ultrasound to assess respiratory failure in patients fighting the virus. POCUS provided an internal lens to frontline workers tirelessly combating COVID. They could physically track the virus’ progression to predict how it would attack the body, giving them the proactive upper hand to get out in front of the required care.
In recent years, POCUS has faced off with the opioid crisis overwhelming the United States (U.S.). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control asserts that the number of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled since 1999. This spike has occurred though there has not been an overall change in the reported amount of pain Americans experience. The outcome has created an epidemic resulting in nearly 247,000 American lives lost to overdoses from the drug between 1999 and 2019.
To contend with this issue at hand, medical providers use nerve blocks as an alternative. They use ultrasound technology to assist with the insertion of nerve blocks to specific locations of the body. This method proactively provides pain relief when and where needed most to aid patients suffering from acute pain. It is a safer alternative to prescribing opiates and made possible through the assistance of POCUS. The aim and final results: staving off opioid addiction.
The use of POCUS is evolving in anesthesiology as well—used for diagnostic perioperative care. Conditions such as pneumothorax, cardiac dysfunction, pericardial and pleural effusions, gastric fullness, and abdominal bleeding are just a few of the scenarios presented in the perioperative setting. POCUS permits anesthesiologists to detect and evaluate the causes of these conditions. It guides anesthesiologists in their decision-making, determining which patients can safely go directly to the operating room and which require a delay due to a need for more extensive testing before surgery.
Therapeutics applications for ultrasound are also on the horizon. Studies have proved that POCUS can help break up thrombus in blood vessels that cause a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Additionally, ultrasound has improved cancer drug delivery to specific organs and allows drugs to cross the blood-brain barrier. GE Healthcare and Exact Therapeutics announced earlier this year a partnership to develop a POCUS probe optimized for this type of therapy. The same BioSpace article mentioned earlier predicts significant growth in therapeutic devices as it contributed to 30% of the global POCUS market share just two years prior.
POCUS is revolutionizing medicine and taking the world by storm. To the providers who have embraced this pocket-sized device that is having a super-sized influence on patient care, the Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) Certification Academy™ says, “Thank you.” Your willingness to learn and advance your skills to convert into a POCUS expert has contributed tremendously to the patient success stories that continue to arise. The future carries a brighter beacon of light illuminating from the anticipation of what POCUS will attribute to healthcare next. Your zeal for helping to raise the standards of POCUS proficiency and, in turn, medicine has given place to a new wonder this world has yet to see!
Learn more about the impact of POCUS by visiting the POCUS Certification Academy’s substantial learning resources.