The Emory Clinic now offers patients access to Volume Imaging Protocol (VIP) ultrasound service, which significantly reduces patient wait times, while providing more detailed imaging for radiology specialists.
The new VIP imaging, developed by GE Healthcare, enables sonographers to sweep across a target area of a patient's anatomy and collect a large amount of imaging information in a very short period of time. After image acquisition, the radiologist can manipulate this image data using advanced post-processing tools to produce three-dimensional images even long after the patient has left.
This ability to perform volume imaging allows a dynamic, real-time look that virtually eliminates any questions of missed information and has been shown to reduce scan times by 60 to 70 percent, while also reducing the need for re-scans by up to 50 percent. This all means a much shorter patient wait time.
According to ultrasonographer Lisa Floch, during typical scans a patient lies on the examining table as the sonographer positions the transducer above the organ or area of interest. The sonographer tells the patient to hold his or her breath, freezes each image, and takes the necessary measurements.
"These steps are typically repeated numerous times in a standard ultrasound, and often mean that, depending on the exam type, it can take up to an hour to complete," said Floch. "The patient must then wait in the exam room while the radiologist reviews the images on a workstation. If the radiologist sees something questionable, additional images are obtained. Then the patient must get back onto the table while the sonographer rescans the area in question. This can be inconvenient and time-consuming for the patient."
With the new equipment, the patient lies on the exam table, the sonographer places the probe and makes a sweep of the organ using a volume-imaging wand, and the system acquires all pertinent information in a matter of seconds. The radiologist then reviews the images on a flat-screen, high-resolution workstation with the capability to manipulate the volume of raw data to reconstruct a 3-D, movie-like image of any organ. If the physician then finds something of particular interest, he or she can virtually "rescan" by reexamining that volume of information, looking at different slices as if the doctor were in the room scanning the patient.
"We're very excited to have this technology," said Floch. "Our patients are much happier by the ease of the experience and reduced time spent in the doctor's office, and our physicians have access to much better images to help diagnose the existence of a problem--or completely rule a problem out altogether."