Uber utility

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Lisa Fratt, Editor

As I reflect on clinical studies published in the last month and consider my conversations with radiologists and surgeons, one point about ultrasound seems crystal clear?the modality delivers incredible flexibility and utility. In many clinical scenarios, it simply outperforms other modalities.

Earlier this month, I spoke with William E. Shiels II, MD, of the departments of radiology and pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and author of a study about self-embedding behavior (SEB) in the June issue of Pediatrics.

SEB is a devastating condition that has flown under the radar. Ultrasound may be critical to proper identification and removal of the objects that affected teens embed in their bodies. That’s because some of the objects children embed are radiopaque and can’t be identified via x-ray images.

Similarly, ultrasound is critical to the burgeoning practice of intraoperative whole-breast radiation therapy, a new model that condenses the radiation therapy plan from six weeks to a single operative treatment for select patients with low-risk breast cancer.

In this model, breast surgeons employ intraoperative ultrasound to localize the target tumor and apply the entire radiation dose during surgery.

Other clinical studies highlighted in this month’s ultrasound portal further illustrate the point. For example, prostate tumors are notoriously difficult to visualize. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles demonstrated the preliminary accuracy in the use of 3D ultrasound tracking and MR image fusion for biopsy of suspected prostate cancers.

While intraoperative ultrasound may allow some women to forego conventional radiation therapy for breast cancer, renal ultrasound may be employed to help pediatric patients with first urinary tract infections avoid invasive cystourethrography by identifying children with renal abnormalities, according to a study published in Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

Finally, a study published in this month's CHEST suggested that ultrasound could replace more time-consuming radiography to evaluate patients presenting to the emergency department with dyspnea.

In the above examples, ultrasound is refining diagnosis, improving patient care, accelerating decision-making and containing costs. It’s a powerful package.

How is your organization utilizing ultrasound to achieve these objectives? Please let us know.

Lisa Fratt, editor