A study presented at the recent meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians by Margarita Oks and her colleagues found that the use of ultrasound in the ICU as opposed to other imaging technues such as x-rays did not advresely affect outcomes. The team studied medical charts covering 3 months of data comparing chest x-rays, CT scans, and ultrasound between two independent but similar medical intensive care units staffed by the same medical house staff in the same health-care system. One unit used bedside ultrasound as the standard of care for diagnosis; the second used conventional imaging, such as x-rays and CT scans, as its standard of care in diagnosis.”We found that the use of ultrasound to diagnose patients greatly reduced radiation exposure for patients without negatively affecting their health,” said Dr Oiks. The researchers found that there were 5.21 x-rays done per patient stay in the ICU using x-rays and CT scans, while there were 1.10 x-rays per patient stay in the unit using ultrasound as the standard of care. Total CT scans were 0.91 per patient stay in the non-ultrasound ICU vs. 0.26 in the ultrasound unit. There were 0.27 cardiac echocardiograms in the non-ultrasound ICU vs. 0.11 in the ultrasound ICU per patient stay. Mortality rates did not differ greatly, namely 0.27 in the non-ultrasound ICU vs. 0.20 in the ultrasound ICU.
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