New ultrasound machines for neonatal unit

12 September 2018

Thanks to donations from our supporters and a generous gift from the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, our neonatal unit has benefitted from two new ultrasound machines, improving the care of some of the smallest and most poorly babies.

Staff at the neonatal unit working with the new machines
Staff at the neonatal unit working with the new machines

These machines, which together cost over £160,000 to purchase, are used to test for multiple problems in very small babies with heart, brain or other organ problems. The neonatal unit admits as many as 900 babies with a range of different medical conditions each year, meaning the ultrasound machines are required at the bedside at all times of the day and night.

‘What we want to do with children as much as possible is use non-invasive imaging,’ explains Dr Owen Miller, Paediatric Cardiologist at Evelina London. ‘Ultrasound is non-invasive as it doesn’t use X-rays, which means there is no harm caused to the child.’

Around the clock care

The new equipment is an upgrade from older machines of inferior quality that often led to delays. Time and efficiency are crucial for the care of babies in the neonatal unit as many of them have critical conditions and need to be monitored around the clock.

‘Previously what we’ve had is a range of different ultrasound machines for each organ or part of the body and so the child would have serial studies on the body by different teams – and those studies would never be held in one place,’ says Dr Miller.

‘The new machines are mobile so that we can move them to the patient’s bedside, preventing the child from being moved. These little fragile newborns can have all of their studies in the neonatal unit in their cot with the same point-of-care machine. This is gentler, kinder and less harmful for the babies.’

As well as improving the quality of scanning, and being suitable to cover many different ultrasound needs, these multipurpose machines store all of the images together so that the patient’s medical record is not fragmented.

‘It’s about improving the workflow, efficiency and quality of the diagnosis,’ says Dr Miller. ‘This is brand new, state-of-the-art and it’s all integrated with our in-house digital archives, so the studies go directly from the machine to our archives.’

Vital teaching resource

Generous donations have also funded the necessary training for staff at Evelina London. The machines are used multiple times a day, with an average of 60 scans carried out a week, and so it is important for all of the staff to be conversant with the technology.

Dr Miller has worked at Evelina London for over ten years and during that time has witnessed the transformative changes that new technology makes to the treatment and care of sick babies.

‘Capital funding for projects such as these is limited. Donations enable us to go with what is the best and the latest. All of our ultrasound machines over the last decade have been funded by donations, which amounts to over a million pounds worth of machinery. One of the reasons we are a leading European centre for ultrasound of the heart is because we have the latest machinery,’ he says.

‘The change is exponential in terms of the new developments in ultrasound scanning over the last five years.’

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