Tuesday, October 25, 2011


By Diane Forrest, RN

One of the complications of my husband's injury was forceful leg spasms.  His leg would jerk every 5 seconds.  This would shake his whole body and was extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing to him.  One morning when he got up we noticed that his lower leg was all red and swollen.  Since he was paralyzed, he had no feeling below his waist, so he felt no pain.  There were no physical signs of injury, so we decided to get an x-ray to rule out any broken bones.  We went to the hospital, and the x-ray was negative for any fractures, so the doctor ordered an ultrasound to rule out a blood clot.

This diagnosis never entered our minds, and the thought of having a blood clot terrified my husband to the point where he thought the end was near.  He laid there for an hour waiting for the technician to perform the ultrasound.  When the machine was brought into the room the technician put the transducer gel on his leg, and then applied the transducer to his leg.  The transducer is the wand that is applied to the skin.  -The transducer probe is the main part of the ultrasound machine. The transducer probe makes the sound waves and receives the echoes. It is, so to speak, the mouth and ears of the ultrasound machine. The transducer probe generates and receives sound waves.  These sound waves are then sent to the computer where the waves are processed to form an image on the screen, allowing the technician to view the area being scanned.

After meticulously scanning the entire area we were relieved to discover there was no clot in his leg, and the swelling was only edema caused by his leg always hanging down because he was sitting in his wheelchair.

Ultrasounds can be used to diagnose all types of problems, but the most recognized use is to on pregnant women to examine the baby for any signs of complications and to determine the age and sex.  It is a painless non-invasive procedure that poses no danger and causes no side effects.

Two years after my husband's initial scare, he did acquire a blood clot, and it was found immediately with the use of an ultrasound examination.  The fast diagnosis allowed for immediate treatment, and the clot was dissolved without any complications.

October is Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month, and the purposes is to inform you that if you are pregnant, or having blood flow problems or even suspect a kidney stone, an ultrasound exam is a painless inexpensive exam to consider.

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