Answer – a portable ultrasound system
When athletes are injured, a fast and precise diagnosis is key. This was a priority for Dr. Hongjin Shim, the second head of PyeongChang Mountain Cluster Polyclinic at the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, where he established the polyclinic system and management structure as well as the emergency department.
As a trauma and critical care surgeon at the Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Dr. Shim recognizes the importance of delivering optimal care for the athletes. He says ultrasound played a key role in the diagnosis. “Ultrasound is one of the most important pieces of equipment we need for immediate diagnosis in the emergency room. With a portable ultrasound device like Vscan Extend, we can accurately identify the problem in no time no matter where we are.”
In the emergency room, Dr. Shim is particularly focused on examining 'lung sliding' between the lung and chest wall (pneumothorax) and fluid collection that is trapped in the pleural space (hemothorax).
“The abdomen and chest usually get examined with sonography in the emergency room. When there is an accident, we need to identify any damage or bleeding in the abdomen and chest for the first time, because there are many vital organs in the chest and abdomen,” Dr. Shim explains.
He recalled an athlete who was suffering from chest pain and left abdominal pain due to an accident during training. Dr. Shim needed to examine whether there was a problem such as spleen rupture, hemothorax, or pneumothorax in the chest-abdominal space. Fortunately, there weren't any.
Orthopedic doctors have also been using ultrasound to identify bone fractures and ligament defects. An athlete came into the polyclinic with a knee injury, and the orthopedic doctor used the Vscan Extend to examine the knee joint. He found that there might be a lateral ligament injury, and sent the athlete to a local hospital for an MRI scan so they could provide the appropriate care as quickly as possible.
“It’s incredibly easy to use, and the key benefit is that it’s portable. You can simply place it in your pocket wherever you go, and you’ll almost forget that it’s there because it’s so light,” Dr. Shim commented. “The dual probe comes in handy too, because in emergencies, it is easy to forget the probe that you need.”
The portability makes it excellent for emergency medical teams who need to travel to the site of injury. Even National Olympic Committee (NOC) team doctors, many of whom are orthopedic surgeons, are using it to look at their own athletes.
Vscan Extend also offers smooth integration with hospitals’ DICOM systems to complement existing documentation and reporting solutions along with cloud-based image storage and communication. “You can send images from the Vscan Extend to PACS using the WIFI network, which can help identify and prepare for treatment while the patient is being transported from the scene of the accident to the hospital.”
For clinicians to make a confident diagnosis, image quality plays a crucial role. “I was surprised at the image quality of Vscan Extend, especially for a portable, pocket-sized device that resembles a smart phone,” Dr. Shim commented.
Dr. Bill Choi, a general cardiologist at Medical College of Wisconsin with a special interest in integrated cardiac imaging, who was serving as a cardiologist at the PyeongChang Mountain Polyclinic, echoed the benefits of handheld ultrasound.
“The portability is great. Orthopedic doctors can bring it to the patient bedside right away, or even at the venue. From a cardiac perspective, you can look at the structural anomaly, functionality of heart, and blood flow.”
“For an experienced clinician like myself, I can listen to the heart with a stethoscope and give a diagnosis, but in order to find out more information or determine whether the patient needs surgery, I rely on this device,” he added.