Streamlining Clinical Workflows in Vascular Ultrasound

Automation increases efficiency and reduces stress on sonographers.

Sometimes less is better than more. It’s certainly true for clinical workflows in vascular ultrasound.

For example, with Pulse Wave (PW /Spectral) Doppler imaging, it typically takes five steps to capture velocity profile and ten to capture volume profile. But CARESTREAM’s Smart Flow Assist technology reduces the steps to only two by eliminating the need for repeated manual adjustments.diagram showing reduced steps

Spectral Doppler imaging is commonly performed to quantify flow profiles in blood vessels. The measurement is displayed as a waveform trace, depicting the velocity distribution (profile) at the given spatial location as a function of time. Capturing the velocity profile requires five steps:

  1. Turn on Color Flow mode to obtain the orientation of the vessel
  2. Turn on PW Doppler mode
  3. Update the beam steering direction
  4. Move the gate to obtain the highest velocity, and
  5. Angle-correct the gate

Each step requires manual effort by the sonographer. Moreover, the typical clinical workflow in vascular ultrasound requires repeated manual adjustments each time the transducer is moved. Steps 3 to 5 must be repeated with each movement of the transducer.

Doppler doubles the steps for volume profile

The number of steps and adjustments are compounded when capturing a volume profile. After performing the first five steps for a velocity profile, the sonographer must perform five additional steps:

  1. Open the gate to encompass the entire vessel
  2. Freeze the PW waveform
  3. Measure diameter of the vessel
  4. Place cursor at beginning of cardiac cycle, and
  5. Place another cursor at the end of the third cardiac cycle to obtain Time Averaged Mean Velocity

The need to execute the repeated movements for both profiles is time consuming. The repetitive clinical workflows can also be costly. Sonographers who have worked in the ultrasound profession for an extended period of time often have pain in their joints or muscles from the repetitive movements. In addition to causing pain and injury to sonographers, the disorders can have a serious negative financial impact on the business.

Smart Flow Assist reduces manual adjustments 

Unlike conventional Spectral Doppler imaging, CARESTREAM’s Smart Flow Assist technology eliminates the need for repeated manual adjustments. The software automatically updates the beam steering, gate position, and angle correction based on analyzing the acquired information. It is updated at all times, even when the transducer is moved.

The benefits of Smart Flow Assist technology are even more pronounced when measuring volume flow (VF) in vascular exams. Measuring volume flow requires capturing velocity and diameter calculations. The added calculations expand the clinical workflow for Doppler imaging to 10 steps – and those steps must be repeated for every new location. Smart Flow Assist reduces the steps from 10 to two.

Streamlining the clinical workflows in vascular ultrasound can increase the efficiency of your sonographers. The automation also makes it more likely that measurements will be done the same way, and thus be more repeatable. And of course, the reduction in steps can help  lessen injuries to sonographers.

Smart Flow Assist Technology is one of several advanced ultrasound technologies in the CARESTREAM Touch Prime Ultrasound System. In addition, the system offers an exceptional user experience through an all-touch control panel, an ergonomic system design, and one-touch transducer activation. Together, they make the Touch Prime a system of choice for radiology, OB/GYN, musculoskeletal (MSK), vascular, and general cardiac imaging applications. #vascular #medicalultrasound

Read the University Clinic in Regensburg’s study on hemodynamic evaluation and measurement.

Ajay Anand, PhD, is a member of the ultrasound R&D team at Carestream Health. He has more than 10 years’ experience leading the development of novel ultrasound technologies. Dr. Anand also is a co-inventor of more than 20 patent filings in the field of medical ultrasound.