NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A fast and accurate diagnosis is critical in getting a COVID patient the right treatment, but many tests take time and some are plagued by false negative results.
But CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez says there’s a small device that can make test results much more accurate — an ultrasound scanner that you can actually hold in your hand.
When you combine that device with other tests, diagnostic COVID accuracy goes up significantly, which is especially important when COVID pneumonia is suspected.
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A patient is in the ER or ICU with COVID symptoms, having trouble breathing. Is it the flu, TB, a common lung infection or COVID-19?
The difference is crucial because the treatments are very different and time is critical.
Dr. Harald Sauthoff, NYU attending and ICU director at the Manhattan VA, says he would normally order a chest x-ray.
“That takes a while for the technician to come up. Then I need a technician to do a cardiac ultrasound and I need another technician … to do the blood clot study,” Sauthoff said.
All of which takes valuable time and could expose technicians to corona.
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What Sauthoff uses instead is a portable, handheld ultrasound probe called the Butterfly-IQ. Connected to a smartphone, it can provide almost immediate critical information.
“The results are more accurate than the traditional chest x-ray … I can carry it with me. I can do it several times a day, and it has no radiation and it’s relatively cheap,” Sauthoff said.
A recent study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine used the Butterfly-IQ during the peak of the pandemic in Italy. Combining the scanner with a PCR test and clinical evaluation of the patient increased diagnostic sensitivity from about 80% to almost 95%.
The Butterfly isn’t just helpful in diagnosing COVID pneumonia; it can scan virtually any part of the body — from the heart, lungs and liver to clogged leg arteries and tumors. There’s even a version for veterinarians.
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