Crouse Health has introduced a new imaging test to detect liver and kidney cancers that up until now has only been available in larger markets such as Boston, New York City and Philadelphia.
It’s called contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS).
According to Thomas Green, MD, chief of radiology for Crouse Health, the procedure uses contrast agents called ‘microbubbles’ that are revolutionizing traditional ultrasonography, dramatically improving the precision of diagnostic sonograms and expanding the clinical scope of a widely used imaging modality.
Once injected in the patient’s arm, the microbubbles go directly to the suspected area of the liver or kidney, improving visualization of blood flow, the cardiovascular system and the movement of blood into vital organs, particularly the liver and kidney.
“Liver and renal lesions are very common,” says Dr. Green. “Differentiating benign from malignant can be difficult and expensive. Traditionally, this has been done with enhanced CT scanning, enhanced MRI or sometimes nuclear medicine.”
CEUS has advantages over all three, according to Dr. Green. For example, there is no radiation as there is with CT and nuclear medicine. There are no concerns about renal function, as there is no renal toxicity to the patient, and no concerns with iodine contrast allergy. There are also no issues with metallic implants, internal pacemakers or claustrophobia as there is with MRI. And, Dr. Green added, the test is significantly less expensive than the other modalities, which is important, especially with today’s high deductible insurance plans.
The exam takes approximately five minutes and can often answer the benign/malignancy question without further testing. The limitations are the same with any ultrasound – the lesion must be seen with regular b-mode ultrasound in order to evaluate it with CEUS.
Dr. Green, who recently went to Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia for special training in CEUS, says Crouse is expecting the number of cases using the modality will increase once providers learn of its availability.