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Townsville Hospital leads the way with ultrasound innovation

Published:  26 July 2019

The Townsville Hospital has been the first public hospital in Queensland to use new technology to detect endoleaks, a potential complication resulting from endovascular repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms (EVAR).

Vascular sonographer Bonita Lefevre said endoleaks occurred when remaining blood flowed into the aneurysm, leaving the patient with potentially adverse outcomes.

“The contrast enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) uses microbubbles as a contrast agent which is injected into the patient and using a special setting on the ultrasound machine, it is seen in the bloodstream until it reaches the repaired aneurysm to identify an endoleak,” she said.

Vascular sonographer Bonita Lefevre said the contrast enhanced ultrasound offered several benefits for patients.

“This is a bedside test which means patients do not necessarily need to leave the ward and go to medical imaging which can be a relief after a major procedure,” she said.

“The whole procedure usually only takes about 15 minutes and within seconds the contrast is seen in the aorta and any endoleaks are visible.”

Townsville Hospital vascular surgeon Dr Vicky White said a vascular surgeon was always present during the procedure.

“This allows us to do a real-time assessment of the circulating contrast, patients can get a quick answer on if they need further surgical intervention to fix the leak,” she said.

Dr White said the CEUS did not expose patients or staff to radiation like the standard endoleak-detecting technology, computed tomography angiography (CTA).

“This is obviously a great benefit to CEUS and in addition to this, the microbubble contrast of the CEUS is filtered out of the body through the lungs instead of the kidneys as is done with the CTA,” she said.

“This means there are some limitations for patients with renal complications in using CTA; however, these patients can use the CEUS without any impact on kidney function.

“The contrast in CEUS leaves the body in about 20 minutes, so even if patient has a lung condition they are still able to have the procedure.”

Dr White said it was proud moment to see the Townsville Hospital offer such an innovative service.

“This is a great service to offer patients and is a good demonstration of how new technology can improve person- centred care and the patient experience by offering simplified and more timely care,” she said.

Bonita said she, together with Dr White and fellow vascular sonographers Kate Gerard, attended an international conference in Munich, Germany to learn about CEUS

“The conference was very educational and informative on the skills need to understand this new procedure,” she said.

“We are happy with the use of the CEUS so far and hope it becomes a standard surveillance method for our EVAR patients due to the benefits it offers to both patients and clinicians.”

Contact: Public Affairs 4433 1016 | 0409 265 298

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