Friday 10 August 2012

First Touch at St Georges Tooting - Ultrasound Appeal

What do you think of when you hear the world ultrasound? I am sure one of the first things that springs to mind is having your 12 week and 20 scan, seeing your baby for the first few times, wondering at that baby growing, moving and doing baby things like weeing and sucking its thumb.

What you may not know, unless you have had a baby in special care is just how important ultrasound is on the neonatal unit. Joseph had several head scans, to make sure that he hadn't had any bleeds. As Dr Donovan Duffy, Neonatal Consultant at St Georges Hospital Tooting explains, ultrasound plays a vital role.

St Georges is a hospital close to my heart as many of "my babies" have been through this unit and I wanted to help raise awareness of this campaign. If you can help please donate to the campaign here. Every little helps.

"The neonatal unit requires a new ultrasound scanner to replace our current scanner which is over six years old. The new scanner will cost approximately £50 000. The investment in a scanner with high specifications will take into account the latest developments in imaging technology. This will allow us to meet our increasing workload for the anticipated lifetime of the scanner.

Ultrasound is a powerful diagnostic tool in constant use on our neonatal unit each day. Unlike other available imaging techniques (X rays, CT scans and MRI) ultrasound is portable, readily available and safe. It does not involve radiation or require sedation. A picture of an ultrasound scanner and examples of ultrasound images are shown on the following page of this proposal.

Our main applications for neonatal ultrasound include:

  • Brain: diagnosis of brain injury, normal and abnormal brain development allowing counselling of parents with future prognosis.
  • Heart: assessment of newborn heart structure, function and response to treatment of the newborn circulation in unwell babies.
  • Abdomen: diagnosis of organ structural abnormalities particularly in babies referred to us as a neonatal surgical centre.
Ultrasound development has resulted in ongoing improvements in image quality and new applications for use. The Royal College of Radiologists publication on ‘Standards for Ultrasound Equipment’ states that ‘because of rapid changes in technology, changing clinical expectations and needs, review and replacement (of ultrasound equipment) is typically undertaken four to six years following installation’. Our current ultrasound scanner was developed in late 2004 and has been installed on the neonatal unit since March 2006.

Benefits to our babies of a new ultrasound scanner include:

  • Overall improved image quality with greater clarity allowing more accurate diagnosis and confidence in counselling parents.
  • New advanced techniques to assess heart function and contraction.
  • Improved ability to visualise blood vessels and place lines in vessels for long term medication and nutrition-                                                       
NICE guidelines state that placement of lines in central vessels should be performed under ultrasound guidance as this leads to a higher success rate with less complications (such as infection and leakage). Ultrasound guided line placement is a standard of care in adults and older children. We would like to make this routine practice in our babies. This would allow fewer painful attempts at line placement and fewer babies needing to go to theatre for surgical placement of lines.

Up to date ultrasound equipment will most accurately inform our management decisions and counselling of parents. A new scanner will enable us to maintain and improve the quality of care we provide to a growing number of babies."

Just a reminder if you can help the donation page is here


  1. Ultrasound is amazing.gemma had the head ones in nicu as well as abdomen and heart in sick kids.
    It is such a shame these pieces of equipment need to be funded by donations,our unit are needing new travel incubators just now.
    Where would our wee ones be without the generous donations funding research and equipment x

  2. How fab to use for placing lines in,the trauma of the poking and prodding gone. I am so amazed and grateful to the doc who managed to get a longline into a scalp vein. When we moved to the sick lids was pleased to see him,her docs were struggling to get a line in and called for him "as really good with little ones",I could have cried with joy when I saw his face! First time .... An ultrasound would have saved all the attempts before - so simple,if equipment in place.