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A dynamic window into the human body

July 23, 2015 | Patricia Harriman

Not since the advent of the stethoscope in 1816 have there been changes in the tools physicians use to take care of patients at the bedside.

Dr. J. Christian Fox, chief of the Division of Emergency Ultrasound at UC Irvine Medical Center, and professor of emergency medicine and director of the ultrasound fellowship at UC Irvine School of Medicine, believes that portable ultrasound machines are the stethoscope of the future.

Commonly used in emergency medicine, Fox is an ardent advocate for expanding the role of ultrasound beyond the emergency department to the bedside and beyond.

Point-of-care revolution at UC Irvine

“Due to technological improvements and reductions in equipment costs, point-of-care ultrasound can be used to confirm suspected findings and uncover other suspected pathology in real-time, at a reasonable cost,” Fox explains.

“From distant disaster sites to remote jungle villages to cruise ships and space stations, ultrasound provides a dynamic window into the human body, enhancing patient evaluations and examinations across organ systems.”

In his recent TEDx UC Irvine talk, Fox relays compelling examples of some of the life-saving treatments he administered based on the results of ultrasound examinations. 

Fox’s vision to increase acceptance of ultrasound at the point of care is being realized at UC Irvine.

This month marks the 12th year of the ultrasound fellowship program he launched, which 22 residents have completed. In August 2010, Fox’s curriculum, including the use of handheld ultrasound devices, was fully incorporated into the course of study for all UC Irvine medical students.

UC Irvine is the only school in California and one of the first in the nation to include this cutting-edge technology that will change the way in which all physicians diagnose their patients. 

Pay it forward

UC Irvine medical faculty and students are proactively engaged in sharing their ultrasound expertise with other healthcare professionals locally and globally.

“Our faculty have published clinical ultrasound protocols for the clinic and the UCI 30,” said Dr. Mark Langdorf, senior associate dean for medical education. “Our students pay it forward by teaching ultrasound procedures to other medical students, midwives and nurses around the world, through an educational grant from the Kay Foundation, as well as direct funding from the School of Medicine.” 

UC Irvine ultrasound training is also being deployed to medical students at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, as well as at the UC Riverside School of Medicine, through a grant from the UniHealth Foundation. 

“There are more than 40 applications of ultrasound that can be used in the clinic, operating room, emergency room, delivery room and intensive care unit,” Langdorf said. “Ultrasound makes procedures safer, more directed, more assured and more comfortable.”

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