One of the most important medical innovations of the last century is the ultrasound. First used in 1956, the sonogram quickly evolved into a useful diagnostic tool for cases requiring examination of the lungs, heart, kidneys, ovaries, uterus, testicles, and many more organs and systems of the body. It has become instrumental in emergency medical education. Graduates are now leaving medical school with more advanced education and techniques in the use of ultrasound. This will make for marked improvements in providing critically ill or injured patients with quality emergency care.
How Ultrasound Works
The ultrasound process works by implementing transducing probes used by ultrasound waves. Each of the probes features an electrical charge that builds up in certain types of solids such as specific ceramics, crystals, and bone. In most ultrasound equipment the material used is crystal. The electrical signal is then converted into ultrasonic waves which are further converted to electrical signals that the ultrasound machine uses to create a two-dimensional picture. This is the image most of us know as an ultrasound picture.
The probes are interchangeable as they are different according to the ultrasound wave frequency that is emitted. This makes for a wide array of capabilities when it comes to the device’s image acquisition abilities and the results produced in various areas.
Emergency Ultrasound Training
The process of emergency ultrasound training is now required in order to complete the accredited sonography program’s core curriculum. This is due to the fact that whenever a fast diagnosis is needed, such as in an emergency room setting, the emergency ultrasound process is universally acknowledged as the quickest and most efficient means of obtaining often critical sonic imaging.
At the present time, no ultrasound training is considered a specialization or a separate program. Currently, any reference to an emergency medicine ultrasound course is generally considered a part of physician training, which includes sonography training. However, changes are very likely just around the corner which will make an emergency ultrasound course a required part of comprehensive training by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the American College of Emergency Physicians.
The Broad Spectrum of Emergency Ultrasound
Emergency ultrasound has a greater reach than hospitals, clinics, and private medical offices. In 2006, approval was given by the American Board of Emergency Medicine to utilize ultrasound technology in hospice and palliative medical settings and situations. This approval made it possible for physicians to administer ultrasound testing in settings such as private homes, nursing homes, and hospices.
The concept of emergency ultrasound grows with each new technological advance. For example, ultrasound equipment is becoming progressively more compact and mobile, making it easier to be used in various settings prior to entering an emergency room setting. Rather than relying solely on physicians, sonographers are now being trained as emergency technicians in order to be able to assist the health care teams on care flights, in ambulances, etc. This can be extremely beneficial in cases of cardiac arrest, fetal examination screening and monitoring, and so forth.
Ultrasound is still considered to be an emerging and ever-expanding discipline, despite the fact that it has been used for decades. With technology advancing rapidly, creating consistently smaller and more portable devices, it is entirely conceivable that in the not-too-distant future, sonographers will be fully trained via an emergency ultrasound course and able to assist emergency room doctors both in and outside a hospital setting.
As an example, one point-of-care ultrasound course is designed to increase the competence, knowledge, and performance of health care providers with regard to patient care in an emergency room setting, hospital, ICU, primary care facility, and other treatment areas. Topics covered in this course include initial evaluation/screening of a trauma patient, ultrasound with regard to deep-vein thrombosis, limited transthoracic echocardiogram, limited pelvic ultrasound with regard to ectopic pregnancy, bedside aorta, peripheral and central vascular access, limited upper quadrant (right) ultrasound, soft tissue ultrasound, and ocular ultrasound.
To learn more about how you can stay on the cutting edge of Emergency Medicine Ultrasound Training, view AHEC’s training center or call (800) 239-1361.