Butterfly iQ is a pocket-sized ultrasound scanner which could revolutionise healthcare

Butterfly iQ
(Image credit: Butterfly Network)

A new all-in-one ultrasound system being touted as a revolutionary development in medtech has been launched in Europe.

Butterfly iQ is being claimed as a world first because it’s a single-probe whole body ultrasound system which is highly portable, and can be carried around in a pocket.

So what exactly are the big innovations here? Firstly, existing rival handheld ultrasound solutions need multiple probes for scanning different parts of the body (using different types of ultrasonic waves), whereas Butterfly iQ can do everything with the one probe. And the extra benefit of that is the added convenience in not having to change the probe heads, too.

And those multiple probe heads can be expensive, so Butterfly keeps costs down here, and is pitched highly competitively in terms of pricing anyway. Butterfly iQ retails at £1,700 (and of course is aimed at medical professionals), whereas subscriptions for rival portable ultrasound scanners can quickly mount up beyond that upfront cost.

Butterfly’s ultrasound system can also be hooked up to the doctor’s smartphone for convenience (rather than requiring an additional piece of hardware in the form of a tablet, as is the case with competing products).

Butterfly iQ

(Image credit: Butterfly Network)

Game-changing device

Butterfly iQ is already being used in the US (with FDA approval for usage in 13 different areas), and early adopters in the UK include the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and Northampton General Hospital.

Dr Paramjeet Deol, Consultant Emergency Medicine & GP, commented: “Butterfly is nothing short of revolutionary – it’s a game-changer. The handheld market before Butterfly had been very, very limited – the quality of the image was not adequate, and the cost was too high.

“We’ve embraced ultrasound at A+E in response to patients not being willing to wait weeks or months for referral scans. The point being that their symptoms worsen in the interim and also that people are unwilling to wait and turn up to the ED looking for answers ... This has allowed us to provide an effective way of ruling in serious pathology in a time critical manner.”

Butterfly also boasts an integrated GDPR ready cloud, allowing doctors to access their studies or easily collaborate with peers wherever they may be located.

A version of the system for animals, Butterfly iQ Vet, is expected to begin shipping to veterinarians over in the US later this autumn (with wider expansion to the UK hopefully coming soon enough after that).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).