The technology

Butterfly iQ+ (Butterfly Network Inc) is a pocket‑sized portable external ultrasound scanner. It is a handheld, single‑probe, whole‑body ultrasound system, powered by a single silicon chip and is connected to a smartphone. Butterfly iQ+ is designed to be used in all areas of medicine. It has 20 imaging pre‑sets that can be used in abdominal, cardiac, lung, bladder, nerve, vascular, musculoskeletal, ocular and obstetric point‑of‑care imaging.


The company claims that Butterfly iQ+ is the world's first handheld, single‑probe point‑of‑care whole‑body ultrasound scanner. Other handheld ultrasound scanners have multiple probes for different applications. Conventional ultrasound machines use piezoelectric crystals to transmit soundwaves to produce an image. But, the Butterfly iQ+ uses ultrasound‑on‑chip technology that can emulate any type of probe (linear, curved or phased), enhancing the accessibility of ultrasound imaging. The Butterfly iQ+ also has capability for teleguidance functionality built in, alongside artificial intelligence tools including auto ejection fraction calculation and auto bladder volume calculation.

Current care pathway

An ultrasound scan can be used to diagnose a condition, monitor a condition, monitor an unborn baby, or guide a physician during certain procedures. Scans can be done using traditional ultrasound scanners that are based in a specific department. These are cart‑based or handheld point‑of‑care ultrasound devices, depending on the setting and condition. External ultrasounds are used to examine the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, an unborn baby in the womb and tissues that can be assessed through the skin, including muscles and joints. During the scan, a handheld probe is placed onto the skin and moved over the part of the body being examined.

Most ultrasound scans will take place in a hospital radiology department and be done by either a radiologist or sonographer. Ultrasound scans can also be done in other hospital departments and community locations such as GP practices. They also may be done by other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, midwives and physiotherapists with specialist training in ultrasound. Scans normally last between 15 and 45 minutes.

Population, setting and intended user

The Butterfly iQ+ is for both adults and children who need diagnostic ultrasound imaging and measurement of anatomical structures and fluids. In adults, it can be used for a wide range of indications including abdominal, bladder, cardiac, focused assessment with sonography for trauma, gallbladder, lung, musculoskeletal, nerve, obstetric, ophthalmic, small organs, soft tissue and vascular. In children, it can be used for abdominal, cardiac and lung assessments.

The technology is used in anaesthesiology, emergency medicine, acute medicine and critical care. The company states that in the NHS, the technology is currently used in primary, secondary and tertiary care.

The company states that for an ultrasound‑trained healthcare provider, the technology is easy to use. Training on how to operate the device is included in the purchase cost and provided by the company. It takes about 1 hour and can be delivered on site or remotely by an online meeting. Further training resources are available through the company app or on their website.


Technology costs

The Butterfly iQ+ costs £1,699, plus £360 per year as a Pro Individual membership fee. This fee covers unlimited cloud storage.

Costs of standard care

  • Point‑of‑care ultrasound devices range from £6,000 to £19,500.

  • Traditional cart‑based scanners cost between £30,000 and £100,000.

Resource consequences

The company states that the technology is currently used in 21 NHS trusts. It claims that the Butterfly iQ+ costs less than traditional systems. Because this device is more affordable than traditional systems, the company also claims that this could make point‑of‑care imaging more widespread, which could benefit patient care.

The company claims that the technology is easy to use and connects directly into a compatible smart device, so no changes in facilities or infrastructure are associated with the introduction of Butterfly iQ+ in the NHS. The Butterfly iQ+ is compatible with a wide range of smartphones and tablets from both iOS and Android platforms, explained on the website for Butterfly iQ+. These devices need to be supplied by the institution or end user.