AIUM room set up for hands-on scanning

April 12, 2000

Acuson, Aloka, ATL Ultrasound, Agilent Technologies, Biosound Esaote, GE, Hitachi, Siemens, and Toshiba took advantage of a new program at this month’s American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine convention in San Francisco that let the medical

Acuson, Aloka, ATL Ultrasound, Agilent Technologies, Biosound Esaote, GE, Hitachi, Siemens, and Toshiba took advantage of a new program at this month’s American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine convention in San Francisco that let the medical imaging companies wheel their equipment into a classroom for a hands-on scanning session.

One of the most popular classroom sessions at AIUM taught participants how to scan the liver and kidneys, said Stacey Bessling, AIUM spokeswoman. The session involved finding the renal artery and renal vein using color Doppler.

“We added the hands-on scanning program because we thought it would be a little bit different,” Bessling said.

Participants learned how to adjust machine settings and position patients in order to optimize duplex and color Doppler waveforms.

Color-flow Doppler has grown increasingly popular for gynecological applications, and physicians are beginning to adopt this form of ultrasound for examination of stroke and head trauma patients (SCAN Ultrasound Market Report, 2/00).

Color Doppler is the best way to image the liver when trying to assess liver transplant patients, diagnose jaundice, vascular abnormalities, cirrhosis, and portal hypertension, said Dr. Philip Ralls, co-moderator of the session.

Traditionally, patients at risk for any of these conditions are scanned using magnetic resonance angiography, said Dr. A. Thomas Stavros.

The kidneys and liver are difficult to scan because they are deeply embedded in a patient. Scanning these organs is especially hard in obese patients because of the amount of fatty tissue the ultrasound beam has to penetrate in order to produce a clear image.

An ultrasound system with multiscanning capabilities is the best kind of system to scan the liver and kidneys, according to manufacturers at the AIUM meeting.

Technological advances in ultrasound, such as harmonic tissue imaging and control of beam direction, has enabled ultrasound to look at liver and kidneys, Ralls said.

Perhaps in the future, contrast agents will work well with ultrasound in this area of the anatomy, he added.

“It certainly looks promising,” he said.

But until that happens, a sonographer scanning liver and kidneys needs a high-end ultrasound system.

“We are trying to look at deep structures. The ultrasound system has to have great penetration, color sensitivity, and a low frequency,” said Dr. Michelle Robbin, a researcher from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, overseeing the scanning station for Acuson.

A low-frequency ultrasound system is able to find suspicious things like fluid around the liver, which could be an indicator of disease, said Tori Seisser, a field applications specialist with Mountain View, CA-based Acuson.