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Will Ultrasound Replace Your Stethoscope?

As a student, my professors emphasized the importance of routinely ascultating a patient’s carotid arteries with my stethoscope for detection of bruits that could indicate life-threatening stenosis. Research on the reliability of this exam demonstrates it to be only moderate. If there’s any question a carotid artery stenosis exists, the physician requests an ultrasound exam to precisely image the anatomy of a patient’s carotid artery.

By contrast, what if the stethoscope was simply bypassed, and the physician instead applied a small, portable ultrasound device directly to the carotid arteries, immediately imaging the detailed anatomy? A growing number of us anticipate that with this rapidly advancing technology, not only the carotid, but the stethoscopic exam of heart, abdomen, peripheral arteries, and even chest may be supplanted by ultrasonography.

What’s the status of your own ultrasound skills? Imaged above is David Culpepper, faculty for INMED’s Professional Certificate Course in Ultrasound for Primary Care, teaching this week in California at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Consider joining INMED for an upcoming ultrasound course – before your stethoscope goes the way of the cassette tape player.

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