Nitin Gupta, Country Manager, India, Fujifilm SonoSite India Pvt. Ltd.
The role of the anesthesiologist is changing. With hospitals seeking innovative ways to streamline patient care and improve outcomes, anesthesiologists are increasingly expected to provide patient care beyond general anesthesia and nerve blocks. Perioperative medicine – pain management and patient care responsibilities – now extend past the operating room and well into recovery. Anesthesiologists are taking on new roles before, during, and after surgery.
Now, anesthesiologists are picking up new skills, like point-of-care perioperative ultrasound, that would have been previously relegated to another specialist. Learning how to scan perioperative patients for complications and conditions is actually a time-saving measure, and can significantly improve patient outcomes and shorten hospital stays.
How Can Point-of-Care Ultrasound Aid in Perioperative Medicine?
Point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS) is becoming an increasingly essential component of perioperative medicine, specifically patient care. With several applications, such as aiding in local anesthetic placement, and helping determine and prevent postoperative complications, perioperativists will find PoCUS to be an invaluable tool in helping provide better patient outcomes.
Common perioperative ultrasound applications include: hemodynamic monitoring and volume status management; identification of pericardial effusion or tamponade; detection of cardiopulmonary pathology including pneumothorax; ET tube placement/airway management; focused assessment of transthoracic echocardiography (FATE exam); assessment of gastric contents; evaluation of hemodynamic instability (FAST exam); and ultrasound-guided nerve blocks.
Nowadays, physicians are well accepting the small and mobile devices that enable them to take instant diagnostic decisions and streamline all other steps in a patient care process by using bedside ultrasonography. They prefer sanitizable ultrasound equipment in operation theatre and ICU settings for infection control (patient safety) during surgeries and invasive procedures. It not only avoids the risk of infection and exposure to radiation but also creates a balanced approach between patient’s satisfaction and the clinician’s professional intellect. Dynamic imaging, precision-based clinical visualization, and real-time analysis are some of the other benefits that PoCUS offers as a bundle. It is imperative for clinicians to undergo the requisite training that can assure the best possible usage of PoCUS in a situation. It is not a qualification but a specialized skill to be acquired. It is encouraging to see manufacturers willing to provide dedicated education and reference material for a better understanding of the application during procedures. After all, ultrasound technology has been devised to be used wisely as a lifesaving tool for better patient outcomes.