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A Second Opinion Just A Heart Beat Away


  Friday 4 April 2008 
A Second Opinion Just A Heart Beat Away

A new echocardiography technology link between Southland Hospital and Dunedin Hospital means a second opinion on a cardiac ultrasound is now just moments away.

Kerren Glasson, SDHB's Senior Cardiac Sonographer, said that the new link between the two hospital's echocardiography  departments allowed the Dunedin based cardiology staff to electronically bring up cardiac ultrasounds taken in Southland on their own system.

"This replaces the old process where we had to download the ultrasound onto a disc and courier it to Dunedin, which could take up to three days," Ms Glasson said.

An echocardiogram is a fast moving image of the heart’s structure and function, which is valuable in the diagnosis of certain heart conditions, for example heart attacks, valve problems and fluid around the heart. Close to 50 cardiac ultrasounds are performed and reported at Southland Hospital per week by the Diagnostic Testing Department.

Whilst many cardiac related conditions are managed by Southland Hospital's general medicine physicians, advanced cases that may require further cardiac interventions are often transferred to the cardiology team at Dunedin Hospital.

"At times, the ultrasound images may   be unclear and a second opinion is required, or immediate access to the echocardiogram images by the Cardiologists could expedite patient transfers to Dunedin," Ms Glasson explained.

"With the new upgrade to our echocardiography system, we can now resolve these unanswered questions much faster with a quick telephone call to the Dunedin based cardiologists who can bring up the ultrasound and provide an opinion."

Ms Glasson said that the link up would also facilitate the visiting cardiologist’s outpatient clinics in Southland by providing an opportunity for the specialist to review particular Southland patient echocardiograms from their Dunedin base, prior to coming down for their busy clinic sessions.

Cardiac ultrasounds are captured in a different format from the hospital's other diagnostic scans like x-rays, CT and MRI scans - which have all been available digitally on a single system since 2004 when SDHB's Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS) went live.

The echocardiography link upgrade cost SDHB approximately $25,000.


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