October 28, 2014
In critical care medicine, where every second counts, the ability to diagnose a patient’s condition quickly and accurately can be lifesaving.
Now, thanks to the introduction of an emerging technology called point-of-care ultrasound, doctors at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) are leading the way in using portable ultrasound machines at the patient’s bedside to quickly and confidently diagnose and form a plan of treatment for these very ill patients.
A new book entitled Point-of-Care Ultrasound, co-authored by London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) critical care physician Dr. Robert Arntfield, explores the use of this emerging technology in all areas of hospital medicine, including emergency and critical care. Dr. Arntfield, widely recognized as a Canadian leader in point-of-care ultrasound, proposed an expanded use of this new approach to medicine at LHSC after completing a dedicated fellowship in ultrasound medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
“The goal of introducing point-of-care ultrasound at LHSC is to change the way we practice medicine to restore diagnostic power at the bedside,” said Dr. Arntfield. “Real time diagnosis is crucial when patients are at their most vulnerable. The more we are able to do at the bedside, the greater the benefit to the patient.”
The miniaturization of ultrasound technology has allowed this tool to be brought to the patient’s bedside, where the treating physician may answer the most pressing questions in real-time. Point-of-care ultrasound may be repeated as necessary and provides a tool for rapidly assessing the whole body, including the heart, lungs, abdomen, and veins in the legs. It can also assist in guiding invasive procedures.
“The value and importance of diagnostic ultrasound, other diagnostic tests and physical exam is unchanged. With point-of-care ultrasound we are talking about adding yet another dimension to the care experience” clarifies Dr. Arntfield.
At LHSC, the impact of Arntfield’s efforts is growing, with most areas of the hospital now using point-of-care ultrasound in some capacity - many using it to guide procedures such as central line placements and the draining of fluid around the lungs.
“Providing faster, more accurate answers to questions of life or death importance is what this is all about and gets me most excited,” says Dr. Arntfield. “It results in better care for critically ill patients when their physicians can understand their illness so rapidly, right at the bedside often within seconds or minutes of making contact.”
Says Dr. Claudio Martin, chief of critical care medicine, “LHSC’s point-of-care program has become a benchmark for other hospitals looking to introduce this technology, with requests for Dr. Arntfield’s expertise as a speaker and instructor in demand throughout Canada, as well as internationally. We are fortunate to have his commitment and dedication to this technology leading us to become a centre of excellence in point-of-care ultrasound.”