Rambam: The Internal Medicine Revolution is On the Way
A new, advanced ultrasound device is now being used in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rambam Health Care Campus. This Philips-designed portable device was donated by two patients and their families to assist the medical team in providing rapid and accurate diagnoses of serious medical conditions.
One of the first patients treated using the new ultrasound device was “S.”, a 70-year-old woman from the Haifa region. She was recently hospitalized in the department, suffering from severe shortness of breath. Many medical problems could explain her condition. However, during an examination, her doctors found something that raised the suspicion that she was suffering from an accumulation of fluid between her heart and the membrane surrounding it (pericardial fluid). This raised concerns since, it this was truly the case, the condition could interfere with normal contraction of the heart muscle, cause the heart to stop working properly, and might even lead to rapid death. To confirm their suspicions, they needed to perform an echocardiograph in the Department of Cardiology, but that would take time. Thanks to the availability of the portable ultrasound device, the doctors in the Department of Internal Medicine D were able to perform the procedure immediately, at S’s bedside, without wasting time or needing to transfer her to a different department. The examination revealed that there was indeed a large amount of fluid surrounding S’s heart. She was quickly transferred to the hospital’s cardiac intensive care unit, where she underwent a procedure to drain the life-threatening fluid.
According to Professor Morir Khamaisi, Director of the Department of Internal Medicine D, this is a unique and unusual use of technology in the field of internal medicine. “This is a trend that is growing in internal medicine departments in Israel and around the world.” He notes that “today, very few Israeli internal medicine departments have a device like this, but in the near future, we expect that use of this machine will become a standard part of diagnoses in departments of internal medicine.”
Professor Khamaisi explains that the device has many medical advantages, but isn’t limited solely to the diagnoses. “When we can perform some of the tests in the department itself, we succeed in not overloading the system, but even more important – we provide better service to our patient. Instead of making them go for testing in other hospital units, everything is done in the same department for the patients’ convenience. In addition, we receive a swift, precise answer, and can provide more effective treatment.”
Another situation that demonstrates the advantage of using this device in the department is a common problem that brings many elderly patients to the emergency room – the worsening of renal function and fear that the urinary flow will stop. For most of these individuals, the urinary tract can be assessed by inserting a catheter in the patient’s urinary tract; however, the procedure is painful and poses a risk for infection — plus the patient’s quality of life and privacy are disturbed. This procedure can be avoided by performing a simple test using the portable ultrasound device. Should the ultrasound exam confirm the diagnosis of urine stoppage, the problem can be easily and successfully treated.
The device is also effective in diagnosing fluid buildup throughout the body including the lungs, stomach cavity, an area surrounding the heart. It also helps doctors perform the fluid drainage processes in the most effective and precise manner. In addition, the device can be used for performing central venous catheterizations, detecting joint inflammation, inflammatory diseases, and more.
“It’s important to remember that most of our patients are the elderly and the chronically ill, with repeat hospitalizations and complicated illnesses; they already suffer a lot,” sums up Professor Khamaisi. “Using this new ultrasound device contributes to the provision of medical care that saves precious time, and prevents unnecessary pain, and discomfort. The wellbeing of these patients is an inseparable part of the diagnostic approach for them, and plays a critical role in their recovery.”
In the photo: Professor Morir Khamaisi and the portable device.
Photography: Pioter Fliter