Editor’s note: Yousif Alkadhi is a second year emergency medicine resident

I used to joke that the new iPhone had so many new features it was going to be able to perform ultrasound FAST scans. Well, we’re not quite there yet, but with this ultrasound app, it can at least walk you through the process.

The Pocket Atlas of Emergency Ultrasound is a 608 page quick reference textbook that retails for 70 dollars. And by textbook, I mean book. I’m not sure how much exactly 608 pages weighs, but I promise carrying the app around on your iPhone or iPad will weigh your pockets down much less.

Which brings us to the app, available in iTunes for a slightly lower price of $69.99, compatible for both the iPhone, iPod touch & iPad. Most of the apps I have on my phone are exactly that, applications. And I know what you’re thinking… This is a lot of money for an app, which is true. But if you’ve ever paid for a textbook, you also realize it’s a reasonable amount for a textbook price (it actually is the text book price in this case).

So then you ask yourself, if you’re in the market for an ultrasound textbook (for class, elective, reference or continuing education), which would you rather have? A physical book with pages that tear and stain, that gets left on a shelf in an office or lost at home or in a white coat you’re not wearing. Or would you rather have the electronic version that weighs nothing and is always in your pocket?

The text itself stands on its own merits. This won’t be so much a book report as it is a description of how well they translate it to their iPhone and iPad app. That being said, it’s still thoroughly impressive.

Since this app is pretty much an electronic version of the textbook, it’s organized accordingly. When you first open the application you’re greeted by the cover of the textbook and then almost immediately taken to the table of contents. There you’ll find all the chapters organized to the way they are in the text: Basics, Trauma, Cardiac, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, Hepatobiliary, Renal, OB, DVTs, Ocular and Procedures.

Once you open up a section you’re reminded just how much this is a text book. Every section has its chapter number as the heading. Just under the title, you are greeted by thumbnails of all of the figures for that chapter (which are then referred to via hyperlink within the text). Overall, the figures and text look very good; definitely retina display compatible. You find the thumbnails again throughout the chapter, and can access the full images either by tapping the hyperlinked text, or the thumbnails themselves; very intuitive.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll notice that I believe an app’s navigation is one of the most important things to me. It can make or break an app, and as I’ve said in the past, all the information in the world won’t help me if I can’t find it or access it easily. I’m delighted to say, the developers of this app hit a home run with this one. Navigation through the entire app is a breeze as well; extremely user friendly to not only jump from image to image and back to text, but also to move from sections within a chapter. And the clincher is the search function. Pocket Atlas of Emergency Ultrasound lets you specify whether you want to search through text or just images, and when you do so, it highlights the search term just like it would on a desktop.

Areas for improvement are few and far in-between. One request would be support for landscape viewing, which this app surprisingly doesn’t have. The last would be video. Granted, I know this is simply an electronic version of the textbook, and that the book doesn’t have video, but ultrasound is such a dynamic field. And while the quality and selection of the still images and figures do a tremendous job, video demonstration of some of the procedures and views would put this app over the top.

There are some of us who will always prefer a physical textbook, which we can highlight and loan out and doesn’t rely on batteries, over a strictly electronic version. But if you’re willing to consider the electronic version, check out our video highlights of the app in action on the iPhone. We have also attached pictures of the app on the iPad at the end of this post.

Video Review:

iPad:

The application’s overall user interface is basically the same on the iPad as it is the iPhone, but functions even better due to the increased screen size provided by the iPad.  This is apparent in the screen shots we have taken of the application on the iPad.  Continue on to see the gallery of pictures and associated links for the application.