CHECK-UP: Emergency Department senior doctor Kylie Baker demonstrates the ultrasound equipment on her father Clive Pope.
CHECK-UP: Emergency Department senior doctor Kylie Baker demonstrates the ultrasound equipment on her father Clive Pope. David Nielsen

Ultrasound a faster way to diagnose heart and lung threats

Image of chest ultra sound indicating heart failure. Photo: Contributed
Image of chest ultra sound indicating heart failure. Photo: Contributed Contributed

IPSWICH Hospital ED patients could benefit from a research project targeting faster diagnosis of lung and heart conditions.

The Queensland Emergency Medicine Research Foundation has funded research, that encourages ED doctors to use ultrasound equipment rather than a specialist.

The adjustment can give doctors a clearer diagnosis if patients are suffering heart failure within minutes of arriving at the hospital.

Ipswich Hospital senior emergency department doctor Kylie Baker and leader of the research project across some of Brisbane's largest hospitals said doctors can diagnose heart failure in three minutes.

"The ultrasound is like using a stethoscope but much more accurate. People sometimes call the ultrasound the stethoscope of this century," she said.

The ultrasound shows up potential heart failure with vertical B-lines which show up on the scans, Dr Baker said.

It can also lead to the reduction in patient chest X-rays.

The two-year $200,000 study comes off the back of a smaller study which proved to be a success.

But Dr Baker said in Europe and the US, the technique was already a mainstay of doctors.

The research will aim to establish if ultrasound tests improve diagnostic accuracy, with the ultimate aim of making the technique quick, safe, simple and cheap.

"It's only the wedge in the door. We only use it for asthma and heart disease, but overseas it's used for many other lung conditions and therefore if we teach people how to do it, it's not going to stop here. It will become more and more useful in other fields."

QEMRF chair Dr David Rosengren said this type of research was vital because the number of older Australians presenting to EDs was going to increase, putting additional pressure on resources.

"This type of research is a classic example of a dedicated, observant doctor seeking an answer to a perennial problem in EDs, quickly diagnosing a failing heart and saving a life," Dr Rosengren said.

"Our grants are directed at research which improves waiting times, patient care and efficiencies across the state."



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