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Handheld Device Expedites Care for Heart Patients

Monday, February 04, 2013

J. Chad Teeters, M.D., Chief of Cardiology

An imaging device about the size of a smartphone is helping to expedite care and potentially shorten hospital stays for heart patients at Highland Hospital. The Cardiology Department has acquired three GE Vscans, which allow cardiologists to take ultrasounds of the heart more quickly at the bedside. “We can take the Vscan to the Emergency Department when a patient presents with chest pain, take images of the heart in real time and find out immediately how the heart is functioning,” said J. Chad Teeters, M.D., Chief of Cardiology. “As a result, we can take the appropriate next steps more quickly.” In five minutes, the Vscan can help a cardiologist determine whether a patient has suffered a heart attack and needs to go to the catheterization lab for further testing and treatment or if the patient can best be treated with medication and a follow-up stress test the next day. In comparison, a traditional echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) from start to finish could take close to 45 minutes.

Cardiologists use the device most commonly on patients who present with chest pains and who may be experiencing heart failure. The Vscan can also help identify inflammation or fluid around the heart and gross valve abnormalities. In the Cardiology clinic, it can be used to assess response to heart therapies. “The Vscan has limitations – we would have to use the echocardiogram to diagnose complex valve conditions,” Dr. Teeters said. “However, the Vscan allows us to be more mobile and efficient in emergency situations, and it complements traditional testing.”

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