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Ultrasound Technology Enters Into Ambulances and Helicopters from Hospital EDs

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 02 Aug 2022
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Image: Paramedics can literally see the functioning of a patient`s heart using ultrasound technology (Photo courtesy of MDA)
Image: Paramedics can literally see the functioning of a patient`s heart using ultrasound technology (Photo courtesy of MDA)

Ultrasound technology that was previously only available in hospital emergency departments or clinical settings is now entering into life support ambulances and helicopters.

Magen David Adom (MDA, Tel Aviv, Israel), Israel’s national emergency medical service, will be unveiling ultrasound technology aboard its advanced life support Medevac helicopters and its Mobile Intensive Care Unit Ambulances (MICUs). Initially, the ultrasound will be used primarily to view the hearts of patients in suspected cardiac arrest or deep shock, and to help paramedics establish IV lines in patients with hard-to-detect veins, an important consideration when getting potentially lifesaving medications into patients quickly.

The use of the ultrasound equipment is potentially a game-changer in treating a critical cardiac condition known as pseudo PEA (pulseless electrical activity) in which the patient has no palpable pulse, but ultrasound reveals the presence of ventricular contractility, the semblance of a heartbeat. Recent studies have indicated that pseudo PEA, where there’s no palpable pulse, but actual heartbeats are occurring, is far more common than previously thought, an indication many patients would benefit from having the ultrasound aboard MDA’s advanced life support vehicles.

MDA will also use the ultrasound technology to quickly find veins in patients to establish IV lines, a critical capability when paramedics need to administer lifesaving medications. Several hundred of MDA’s more than 1,000 paramedics have already been trained to use the new equipment. The rest of MDA’s paramedics will be fully trained by the end of this year. With additional training in the future, MDA paramedics will eventually also be using the ultrasound to detect other conditions, such as tension pneumothorax, in which the patient’s lungs leech air into the chest cavity, a potentially fatal condition that can prevent the patient from breathing.

“This is yet another step by Magen David Adom to bring technologies previously only available in [hospital] emergency departments or clinical settings into our MICUs,” said Dr. Refael Strugo, medical director for MDA. “Being able to actually see a patient’s heart function through an ultrasound probe, rather than merely observe the heart’s electrical impulses through an ECG (electrocardiogram), provides us with a clearer picture of his condition and enables us to make better informed and potentially lifesaving medical decisions.”

Related Links:
Magen David Adom 


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