Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ultrasound – The Other Imaging Innovation

Ultrasound imaging appeals to physicians because it is simple and benign. And as medial technology goes, it is relatively inexpensive.

Dennis Meredith, “Sound Thinking,” Duke Magazine, July/August, 2011



August 11, 2011
– The other day, my wife had an ultrasound done because of chemical evidence of a parathyroid adenoma. The noninvasive procedure took about 15 minutes. A technician waved a mechanical wand over the neck, and it was done. The report showed a 1.5 by 1.0 cm mass in the area of the right lower parathyroid.

According to Dennis Meredith, a science writer and a research communication expert,

Ultrasound machines, unlike multi-ton MRI machines, or room-sized CYT scanners, are typically no larger than a baby buggy and just as portable. And unlike X-rays or radioactive-tracer PET scans, ultrasound does not expose patients to ionized radiation. Ultrasound is also far cheaper. Even the most elaborate ultrasound scanner costs no more than $100,000, versus millions of dollars or MRI or CAT scanners
.

Ultrasound is a versatile diagnostic and treatment tool. Using a hand-held “magic wand” or endoscopic probes, physicians can scan for and treat multiple lesions.

Among other things.ultrasound can.

1. Visualize subcutaneous body structures – tendons, nerves, joints, blood vessels, and organs.

2. “See” tumors and aneurysms.

3. Detect deep vein thrombosis.

4. Smash renal, bladder, and gallbladder calculi.

5. Emulsify cataracts.

6. Guide needle biopsy to the target.

7. Ablate some tumors noninvasively.

8. Visualize babies in utero.

9. Treat varicose veins.

10. Show blood vessel abnormalities.

11. Deliver chemotherapeutic drugs to brain tumors.

12. Measure the heart’s “ejection fraction.”

13. Detect all of sorts of heart lesions and functions – including coronary artery disease, heart output, diastolic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and valve dysfunctions.

14. Guide needles for biopsies or administration of regional anesthesia.

15. Diagnose carotid artery narrowing that may lead to stroke and aortic aneurysms that may cause death.

16. Distinguish between breast cancer and benign cysts.

17. Emulsify cataracts.

18. Clean teeth.

And says George Trusky, chairman of the Duke Biomedial Engineering Department, ultrasound can decrease costs of imaging technology by reducing the need for MRI and CAT scans. Furthermore, doctors in their offices, using palm-sized ultrasound devices, can diagnosis or rule-out a variety of abdominal conditions.

The versatility and utility of ultrasound has not escaped the attention of the commercial world. Lifeline Screening, Inc, using ultrasound equipment in mobile vans, has screened over 6 million people since 1993 for carotid artery stenosis, atrial fibrillation, abdominal aneurysms, peripheral vascular disease, and some heart conditions. And GEhealthcare is currently conducting a nationwide television marketing campaign featuring their GE Vscan, which can be used by doctors in ER and office settings, to scan for abdominal problems, such as appendicitis in children and adults and abdominal aneurysms and tumors in adults.

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