St. Luke Hospital recently acquired a new onsite ultrasound machine through a donation of $100,000 from the Lorraine Hadsell Charitable Trust. The new machine increases the speed and ease with which Marion County patients can receive ultrasound related medical services.
“We still have the mobile ultrasound service too, but it only comes two days a week for a half-day each time, like it used to,” director of radiology Joe Pickett said. “But with our new onsite ultrasound unit, there is much more availability for local patients to receive care, and they don’t have to travel to Emporia or Newton if there is pressing concern like a hot gall bladder.”
Pickett said the hospital saw a need and filled it, but before they could fill it, they needed a properly trained employee to operate the ultrasound unit.
“Robyn Sadowski runs the machine,” Pickett said. “She wanted to learn ultrasound, so I sent her to Geary Community Hospital in Junction City where they have a clinical teaching site.”
Sadowski is a registered technologist of radiology that also attended school three days a week for two years to become a registered diagnostic medical sonographer.
The physics in the process is complicated to simplify, she said. However, she uses a coupling gel between the transducer and the skin so there is no gap between the machine and the skin while taking pictures.
“The transducer probe has a piezo crystal inside of it that sends the sound into the body, and depending on your depth, the sound will revert back to the crystal where the echo is changed into an image,” Sadowski said.
The ultrasound unit essentially converts sound into a visual image by means of an electrical signal that allows medical professionals to examine patients for any number of reasons including fetal development.
“Images come back in black and white and gray,” Picket said. “However we can use color pictures to tell things about blood flow too.”
Other major benefits of using an ultrasound unit is that it doesn’t use radiation like CAT scans and MRI, Pickett said. “Having one in Marion also helps speed up diagnosis in the mammography program as well as in cases of trauma.