Wolf Point Herald

“State-Of-The-Heart” 4D Ultrasound/Echocardiogram Brings Advanced Imaging Capabilities To NEMHS

Moms-to-be will soon be able to see their unborn baby’s facial and body features with striking clarity and providers at Northeast Montana Health Services will be able to look into the human body with greater accuracy and imaging than ever before for all patients.
Through the recent purchase of a 4D ultrasound and echocardiogram machine, NEMHS is now able to offer color, motion images of patients like never before.
So what’s the biggest difference between 3D and 4D ultrasounds? It’s simple really. 4D ultrasounds are in color and in motion.
The machine, produced by General Electric, cost $161,936, and will be stationed in Wolf Point. The expense associated with training and other equipment supplies will put the total cost over $200,000 when it is up and running with all of its services in use.
“We are the first healthcare organization in the state to have this machine with the echocardiogram and elastography packages. We are pioneering this effort,” said Roger Fisher, director of radiology for NEMHS.
Northeast Montana Health Services is now able to offer patients enhanced imaging services through 4-D ultrasound and echocardiogram imaging technologies.
The recent purchase, had been in the thought process for some time, but because of the high cost to purchase it and other equipment that took priority, it wasn’t possible until several months ago to actually place the order.
“The radiology department is so excited to incorporate these technological advances into our services. With the high incidences of diabetes and heart disease in this area, this technology will help us detect problems faster. With clearer images, we will be better able to delineate between what is benign and malignant and may be able to lower the amount of biopsies needed to be performed on patients,” Fisher said.
3D ultrasounds have been around for some time. However, 4D is the latest technology where 3D images are spiked with live action movies of what is going on inside the body. Echocardiogram capabilities within the system will allow for the evaluation of heart outputs and functions. Another feature is the use of a newer technology known as elastography. An ultrasonic imaging technique that displays the elasticity of soft tissues has been effective in finding abnormalities of both muscle and breast tissues.
Three radiology technicians will receive extensive training to become proficient with using the machine. Because of this, it will take several months before echocardiogram services will be made available to patients.
For moms-to-be, the 4D ultrasound is perhaps the first home movie starring baby. Proud parents can witness hands and fingers moving, toes curling and even facial expressions. The advantages of this technology are that you will be able to see movement and note development in all three planes. It is possible to identify all of the baby’s features in detail with the fat layer filling the skeletal appearance within 28 to 36 weeks. In addition, the ultrasound creates ease in identifying the baby’s gender and heartbeat because the scan displays the entire baby.
It can also determine the true fetal age, analyze the fetus’ development, detect abnormalities, such as cleft palate, spina bifida, vascular anomalies and genetic syndromes, and detect ovarian tumors.
For patients without a baby on board, health care providers can provide benefits in breast imaging, interventional urology and general imaging of other organs and internal autonomy and systems throughout the body. It can also replace the need for a colonoscopy or cystoscopy.
“The governing board agreed this technology was necessary to helping ensure healthcare dollars stay in our community. Providing these advanced services helps NEMHS provide all inclusive health care to our community members,” said Tom Ault, president for the NEMHS governing board of directors.
The governing board approved the purchase citing that the warranty had expired on the outdated 3D ultrasound purchased in 2001 and parts are no longer available. It has been moved to Riverside Clinic, in Poplar and will be used for obstetric early trimester ultrasounds until it stops working.
The NEMHS Charitable Foundation has contributed $25,000 toward the purchase of the machine to date and have pledged another $40,000 in the coming years.