Waitlist reduced for MSK ultrasounds
Space doubles for musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasounds and image-guided procedures at Hamilton General Hospital
The waitlist for musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasounds at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) has been significantly reduced thanks to just over $131,000 in support from the province’s Surgical Innovation Fund.
“We’re very excited to get the word out about this expanded program.” — Lyndsay Kowalyk, clinical manager, diagnostic services
This funding, received last summer, allowed HGH to double its MSK ultrasound and image-guided procedure space by expanding from one room to two. The second room, and more specially-trained technologists, are credited with helping to reduce the waitlist for MSK ultrasounds. The expanded space is called the Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging and Procedures Lab.
“Thanks to the provincial funding, our waitlist for an MSK ultrasound is currently down to two to four weeks, though this can fluctuate as demand changes,” says Lyndsay Kowalyk, HGH’s clinical manager of diagnostic services. The wait had been several months longer prior to the provincial support.
Provincial funding for the expanded space was made possible thanks to a proposal by HGH sonographers Lisa Billone and Sarah Allred, who specialize in MSK ultrasounds, and Dr. Michael Colapinto, an HHS radiologist and the ultrasound lead for HGH.
An MSK ultrasound provides real-time images of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and cartilage. Common reasons for needing this type of ultrasound include injuries to the rotator cuff, shoulder or hip, and peripheral nerve disease.
Billone and Allred have a highly-advanced and specialized ultrasound skill set and have taught MSK ultrasound techniques at the provincial, national and international levels.
In-house at HGH, they helped train additional technologists in this specialty which allowed the team to grow so they could reduce the waitlist in their expanded space. There are currently five permanent HGH technologists trained in MSK ultrasounds with several more on their way to being trained.
With the expanded space, working alongside the subspecialty-trained MSK radiologists at HGH, the team has also been able to perform more image-guided MSK procedures such as injections to relieve pain from carpal tunnel syndrome. With these procedures, patients return home the same day. The team is continuing to work to reduce the waitlist for such procedures, which currently sits at about four months.
In some cases, these image-guided procedures can defer surgery, or avoid it completely. And MSK ultrasounds and ultrasound-guided procedures are cost effective, since they cost significantly less than MRIs or operations, and don’t involve overnight hospital stays.
The expanded space and team allows HHS to better serve the hospital’s orthopedic and plastic surgeons as well as local family and sports medicine doctors whose patients require MSK ultrasounds and image-guided procedures.
“We’re very excited to get the word out about this expanded program,” says Kowalyk.