Monday, January 2, 2012

Ultrasound for Dummies?

On a road trip in the deep south, I stopped at a gas station to fill up my tank.  I was greeted by a man in a camouflage cap embroidered with a confederate flag across the pump.  He struck up conversation with me, commenting on the t-shirt I sported, emblazoned with the name of my medical school.

"So, I just bought a broken sonogram machine for $20 and fixed it up," stated the sketchy man.  "Now, I rented a booth at the flea market and I'm going to charge people $25 for an exam.  See, one of my girlfriends came over and I showed her everything was a'ight with the baby."

I responded with some polite, awkward statement and a "congratulations" before continuing northbound.  A certain confusion permeated my "congratulations" to this man, which, upon reflection, was more of a result of pondering whether the baby was his or how many of his girlfriends were pregnant.  Regardless, as I continued my drive I considered how fitting this man's comments were in the context of the discourse regarding the growing utilization of ultrasound in the Emergency Department.

Over the past few months, the Ultrasound Podcast has transformed into one of my favorite podcasts.  These guys, Dr. Mike Mallin and Dr. Matt Dawson, demonstrate that EM physicians can use ultrasound well and for more than we often credit the imaging modality.

Oftentimes when I tell my attendings that I'm fascinated with ultrasound and would like to see the use expanded at bedside, I often encounter the question, "For what? Why?"  Many of these docs think solely about the FAST (Focused Assessment with Sonography of Trauma) exam.  I've learned, however, that there is so much out there for ultrasound to offer and very little risk associated with this imaging.

Also, if gas station man could use ultrasound at the flea market, I (and other students and physicians) can probably learn to do the same in an emergency department.  


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  2. thanks for the tips and information..i really appreciate it.. ultrasound technician