Cruise Lines Move Toward More Portable Ultrasound Units Aboard

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Advancements in ultrasound technology plus new care guidelines are driving an interest in ultrasound machines on cruise ships, said Michael Cairnie, director of global and government sales at MinXray.

“If you can scan someone’s abdomen with an ultrasound and find an injury, that could mean the difference in having to medically evacuate someone,” he said, noting the company’s SX-1CTS 3-in-1 color probe is the best ultrasound unit for a shipboard environment as it provides excellent image quality and is wireless, extremely portable and easy to use.

“It is not going to change treatment on the ship but it will help them decide on a more definitive basis on who needs to stay and who needs to (be evacuated),” Cairnie added.

Updated guidelines from the American College of Emergency Physicians regarding cruise ship health care will recommend cruise ships have ultrasound capabilities in terms of equipment and training by 2026.

With new cruise ships such as the Icon of the Seas having up to 8,000 or more people aboard, medical staffing and equipment has become more critical, including for crew who live onboard for months at a time.

MinXray provides small, wireless ultrasound units that are portable and utilize an app-based software package that can be downloaded to an iOS or Android device. The ultrasound system features five imaging modes and a built-in 5G WiFi router. It can also work for three hours continuously without overheating.

Cairnie said the machines are the size of a phone and can last years, often just needing the rechargeable battery replaced. The U.S.-based company provides support from Miami to its cruise customers, he added.

“The interest from cruise lines in these devices have grown exponentially and a lot of that has been driven by accessibility, size and cost. A fully operational ultrasound machine cost over $100,000 30 years ago, and now it’s under $10,000.”

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