Saturday, May 19, 2007


Good thing I love technology. As a NICU nurse, I see plenty of it. I usually work nights, so there's one piece of equipment I don't see often. That's the machine used for echocardiograms -- ultrasound pictures of the heart. Sometimes the tech comes in early in the morning before I leave. If I have time, I love to watch the echo technician at work.

The first time I saw an echocardiogram in progress, I couldn't make out a single thing in the grainy screen. As time passed and color was added, I could see the flashes of color that signified blood flow -- and that showed the abnormal blood flow from cardiac defects. I still couldn't make out structures, though.

One recent morning, the echo tech rolled in a machine I'd never seen before. It was huge. The screen was larger and the machine looked very new. I had a few extra minutes, and a good vantage point, so I watched fascinated as she pointed out valves, ventricles, major blood vessels. It was amazing. The images actually looked like the structures -- finally. I'd never have been able to name them without her help, but the tour was fascinating.

As I watched, I appreciated the advances in imaging available to us, but what struck me more than anything else was the courage of those pioneers in pediatric cardiac surgery who didn't have access to any of this technology. I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the decision to make that first incision.


Awesome Mom said...

I too am amazed. The surgeries that have saved my son's life are barely 30 years old. If he had been me there would have been a good chance he would have died. You should see the movie "Something the Lord Made" it is a great movie about the people that came up with the first surgery to help with heart defects. It is very amazing what they did with so little.

Judy said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to track it down.

X-Ray Geek said...

Imaging has taken leaps and bounds over the past few years. You have got to see the x-ray machines that you can see the image right away and before they move on to the next baby:)

Judy said...

We don't have those (yet), but we have gone digital. They still have to cart the plates down to the department to upload them. Next round, they'll probably be able to do it in the unit.

At least our neonatologists (and probably our surgical consultants - I'll have to check on that) can see the xrays without leaving home. If they need to see one, they often need to see the baby really soon too, but they can make suggestions to the NNP's before they hop in the car. Often that means they call the surgical consultant from home and meet them at the NICU instead of having to come in and THEN call them.