A new, compact point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) system is helping a busy ICU team to bring fast, efficient, and accurate perioperative pain relief,


Sharp Relief: This Compact, Hi-Def Ultrasound Device Is A Boon For Roving Anesthesiologists

A crisp, detailed ultrasound image is essential for Dr. Bernard Delvaux, a member of Quincy
Anesthésie, a team of France’s leading anesthesiologists. He explains the pinpoint precision
required when carrying out a regional block, an injection of anesthetic that numbs a patient’s
nerves before surgery. “The nerve is one- or two-millimeters width, and the needle has to
come close without being inside the nerve,” he explains “That’s why ultrasound has taken a
very important place in our medical practice.”
It also helps if an ultrasound device is as easy to carry as a tablet computer. Bernard’s team
of nine anesthesiologists at the Hopital Privé Claude Galien private clinic on the outskirts of
Paris, France, are constantly moving between operating theaters, the intensive care units
(ICUs), and the recovery rooms to prepare patients for surgery and treat their post-surgical
pain. They will perform scores of regional blocks every day, and in the typical week, treat up
to 400 patients.
But a new, compact point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) system is helping that busy team to
bring fast, efficient, and accurate perioperative pain relief. GE Healthcare has unveiled Venue
Fit, which boasts the same image quality, touchscreen, intuitive interface and real-time
documentation software as the rest of the Venue family* That allows anesthesiologists to
maximize their time and clinical confidence just like other medical practitioners who rely on
ultrasound. But there’s an added bonus: Venue Fit is the smallest system in the Venue family,
consisting of an easy-to-clean 14-inch touchscreen that can be mounted on a wall, cart, or set
on a table using a kickstand.
The extra portability is hugely valuable to the peripatetic anesthesiologist. “It’s very mobile,
so we can easily move it from the block room, where we do regional anesthesia, to the
recovery room, or to the ICU,” says Bernard. The device is also battery-powered, which
means that clinicians don’t need to spend time fiddling with plugs as they work.
For example, he says women recovering from caesarean deliveries might require an
ultrasound-guided quadratus lumborum (QL) block, which involves the injection of anesthetic
into the body’s deepest abdominal muscle. “We can wheel the machine to the bedside, and
do this very easily,” says Bernard.
Venue Fit Ultrasound.jpg
The compact size is also handy when the anesthesiologist is sharing space with other
doctors, such as during thoracic surgery. Here, the surgeon is operating on vital chest organs
while the anesthesiologist is managing ventilation, oxygenation as well as analgesia via
intravenous catheter. “We can put the machine in the corner of the operating room when we
are not using it, and then bring it over when needed,” says Bernard. “That’s very useful.”
The device’s crisp, clear image also enables prompt, precise pain relief, which is an advantage
for both the patient and clinical workflow. “You can see almost every detail,” explains
Bernard. “A short anesthesia and short operation are much better for a patient than a long
one,” he adds. “We can also get patients quickly out of the operating room.” That high-definition
image adds clinical confidence during urgent situations that require emergency surgery. Anesthesiologists can have a better idea within seconds if the stomachs is empty, Bernard says, or if a patient has suffered from a pneumothorax, more commonly known as a collapsed lung.
Venue Fit is also packed with user-friendly software. For example, anesthesiologists can use a
preset to instantly switch to lower-frequency waves, which yields better images of their
needle in deeper tissue. “For a deep block, you can just push a button instead of searching
step by step,” says Bernard. They can also de-clutter their screen by switching to a mode
called Simple Screen, which offers an image that is 18 percent larger without icons obscuring their
Bernard explains that just a decade ago, several of the world’s anesthesiologists were still
using electrical stimulation to locate nerves and aim their needles. “The needle sent an
electrical impulse, and you would see a change in resonance when the needle got close to
the nerve,” he says. “Nerves are like electric wires, so you could see a small reaction.”
He is pleased that ultrasound-guided anesthesia, rather than tiny electric shocks, is now the
practice. “When you compare the two techniques, you can see that ultrasound is more
comfortable, by far.” He is excited about future enhancements to ultrasound technology that
will help him to optimize pain relief, maximize patient comfort, and deliver improved
outcomes. “Our job is all about speed, precision, and definition.”
Bernard is keen to dispel the myth about anesthesiologists: That they are
emotionally disconnected from their patients. “We don’t speak to them a lot, but when we
do, it’s very intense,” he says. “And I need [tools] to make me able to relieve their stress in
the best way possible.”
*The Venue family includes Venue, Venue Go and Venue Fit.