Ultraportable ultrasound in use at Torino Winter Olympics
By Mike Hanlon
February 26, 2006
February 27, 2006 At each Olympic games, each country seeks to optimize its available athletic talent pool with the latest training, medical and technological expertise because the difference between a medal and nothing can be miniscule. A perfect example of this is the British Olympic team’s use of the GE Healthcare LOGIQ Book XP, the world's smallest, full-function multi-purpose portable ultrasound unit at the Torino Olympic Winter Games. The portable 5 kilo diagnostic scanner "in a backpack" allows instant diagnosis and more accurate examination, diagnosis and treatment of athlete injuries slope-side, rink-side or in the locker-room.
At the last Winter Olympics, Team GB had a total of 193 medical incidents, of which 13 were significant injuries and seven were of a traumatic nature and required ultrasound - going to a clinic, booking scan time, waiting for the exam, performing the exam and then returning to the competition site – seven times. “Today, a team physician without ultrasound is like a general practitioner without a stethoscope," said Team GB doctor Dr. Richard Budgett. "
This is the first time Team GB have had the benefit of a dedicated ultrasound system for their athletes at the site of competition.
Dr. Richard Budgett, chief medical officer for Team GB and a 1984 Olympic Gold medal winner in men's coxless four, explained, "In the case of minor injuries, ultrasound exams allow us to make an informed decision on whether the athlete should rest to recover, train, or is still able to compete at maximum capacity. In previous competitions, when we had a bobsledder with a pulled hamstring, a skier with sharp knee pain, or an ice skater with a twisted ankle, for example, we basically relied on our clinical skills or gut feeling. Now, we can base our treatment on clinical and diagnostic imaging fact."
At the last Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Team GB had a total of 193 medical incidents, of which 13 were significant injuries. Half of these were of a traumatic nature and required ultrasound. "At that time, this meant going to a clinic or hospital, booking scan time, waiting for the exam, performing the exam and then returning to the competition site - basically a half day, at minimum, immobilized," said Dr. Budgett. "With our new LOGIQ Book XP, the medical team can now scan injured athletes ourselves on the spot and make quick and more accurate diagnosis of most of the injuries we typically encounter. Today, a team physician without ultrasound is like a general practitioner without a stethoscope."
GE's LOGIQ Book XP is perfectly suited to this year's event that is spread across 200 square kilometers around the city of Torino. In addition to its portability, it can also be used to transmit athlete images through the Internet to allow real-time diagnosis from specialists who may be anywhere in the world, and in this case, on call at the main hospital in Torino. Dr. Budgett agrees, "Sometimes an injury will require a second opinion or treatment at a specialized facility. With the LOGIQ Book XP, I can send patient information to another doctor or center, perform an ultrasound exam and have it viewed in real-time by another specialist, and also have immediate access to the patient's previous ultrasounds that are stored in the system's memory."
The Torino Games are the first Games at which the medical infrastructure will be equipped with portable ultrasound. GE is partnering with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to enable fast, efficient diagnosis of injuries at the point of play for all of the competing athletes by providing six ultrasound systems to the polyclinics and surrounding hospitals in Turin.
In addition to the LOGIQ Book XP, GE is providing a mobile MR scanner in Sestriere, located one and a half hours away by car from Torino, and the site of the downhill ski competitions. "It is very reassuring to know that there will be such advanced medical technology so close to where our athletes are competing," continued Dr. Budgett. "In serious trauma injuries, the first so-called 'golden hour' is critical. We hope we won't need to use these systems, but we're glad that they are there."