Improving care by enhancing fetal ultrasound imaging

Improving care by enhancing fetal ultrasound imaging

July 30, 2019
Women's Health
Dr. Michael Demishev
From the July 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Dr. Michael Demishev

As a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, I have the privilege of caring for my patients at a special time in their lives. And while pregnancy is full of excitement about what lies ahead, it can also be a period filled with anxiety and concern should there be a complication.

While our department at NYU Winthrop Hospital sees many healthy pregnancies, the fact that we’re a referral facility means we also receive complex cases from other hospitals in addition to our own high-risk patients. Those cases include fetal abnormalities such as heart defects, chromosomal abnormalities and genetic conditions that require invasive testing such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis. CVS is a prenatal test of amniotic fluid used to test for chromosomal abnormalities in a fetus, in which a sample of chorionic villi is removed from the placenta for testing and amniocentesis.

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Whether a typical or atypical pregnancy, for decades the standard device used to evaluate the development of the fetus has been ultrasound. Today, we use Samsung’s Hera W10. Throughout my career, I’ve seen the technological ability of ultrasounds progress, and, with it, I’ve seen clearer pictures of what’s happening inside the womb.

For example, I recently had a 36-year-old patient with monochorionic-diamniotic twin pregnancy who presented with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a disease of the placenta that causes abnormal blood vessels, anastomosis on the placenta and affects the blood flow to both of the twins. The condition is serious and can lead to one fetus experiencing stunted growth and anemia, and, in some cases, even death. Our team needed to perform fetoscopy to locate abnormal blood vessel connections in the placenta and ablate the vessels using laser energy. By using a new technology on the Hera W10 that offers a detailed view of blood flow in relation to the surrounding tissues, we were able to map these vessels to improve the outcome for the patient. Just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have had technology like this to help plan the procedure.

As technology progresses in all areas of life, the practice of ultrasound, too, will continue to improve. Here is my take on where the field of maternal fetal ultrasound is going, how it will impact the standard of care, and why it matters to healthcare professionals and patients alike.

Earlier diagnosis
When caring for an expecting mom, the ability to share with her an accurate diagnosis earlier goes a long way in easing her mind. A simple shadowy effect in an ultrasound image can lead to an inaccurate diagnosis, or cause unnecessary concern. In short, image quality really matters.

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