‘Ultrasonography’ device takes imaging to new level

Dr. Hugo Davila [Photo: Denise Ritchie]

In January of this year Florida Healthcare Specialists’ Dr. Hugo Davila unwrapped one of the most modern, flexible and, yes, even game-changing medical devices Vero Beach has seen: the BK Medical intra-operative ultrasonography machine.

Davila, an accomplished urologist and surgeon who has been with Florida Healthcare Specialists for five years, is also a clinical assistant professor of Urology and Robotic surgery at Florida State University’s College of Medicine.

As such, he knows a medical game-changer when he sees one, and having seen the BK device, he knew he wanted one in his Vero office.

In earlier iterations, the use of sound waves in medicine has been around for decades.

Today’s ultrasonography is the direct descendant of sonar, the underwater detection technology pioneered by the U.S. Navy during World War II – though even Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz would likely be dumbstruck by how the technology has evolved.

Today it is used to provide incredibly precise real-time imaging for treating problems in the gall bladder, the liver, the heart, the kidneys, the female reproductive organs and babies still in the womb. It’s also used to detect and treat prostate cancer, pelvic organ prolapse and a host of other medical conditions.

Davila has many good things to say about this game-changer.

First, he says the technology at play in BK Medical intra-operative ultrasonography machine is improving both constantly and consistently and is easily upgradable.

Second, “it’s not that expensive for the patient. When you compare ultrasonography with MRIs or CT scans, ultrasonography is less expensive than those technologies.

“No. 3, ultrasonography doesn’t give you the radiation. When you get a CT scan, you are always concerned about how many CT scans will be needed. Exposure to that radiation, over time, can increase the possibility of developing cancer. With ultrasound, you don’t have that problem.

“No. 4,” Davila continues, “it’s mobile, so you can take it from one room to another in your office, which allows you to be more efficient.”

No. 5 on Davila’s list of positive attributes is that with this particular device he can scan just about any of the body’s internal organs and structures.

Finally, and maybe the biggest plus of all, he says the images this BK device delivers are in real time.

That’s a huge improvement over, say, a static X-ray pinned to a backlit board in an operating room. It is a powerful a tool in procedures such as biopsies where it allows Davila to be infinitely more precise as he collects tissue samples than would have been possible working from an X-ray or scan done hours or even days earlier.

In other words, BK Medical’s intra-operative ultrasound imaging can guide the surgeon to a precise location. The result is something akin to watching a live TV show of whatever procedure is being performed. From inside the body. Davila knows precisely where his instruments are at any moment in time during the procedure.

If that’s not compelling enough, Davila also points to a way the device can uncover the past.

“A lot of pelvic organ prolapse patients who come to my practice,” Davila explains, “may have had surgery done elsewhere many years ago. The patients did very well, but five or 10 years later, they may start having frequency urgency, incontinence or a prolapse coming back. If I’m not able to get that surgical report and the patient doesn’t remember what specific type of surgery they had, I can create a three-dimensional reconstruction of the pelvic floor by doing a 360-degree trans-vaginal ultrasound,” and determine how to best proceed.

Davila also performs kidney cancer surgeries in which “we are taking just the growth or the tumor from the kidney, but we are saving the kidney.” With the BK ultrasonography device, “we put in an abdomen probe that allows me to see how much of that tumor is inside the kidney and where I need to cut, in order to take out the cancer.”

That’s a lot of uses for a device that, to the untrained eye, looks like little more than a keyboard and a high-res screen on a rolling table.

Davila concludes by saying, “I don’t think ultrasonography is going to go away. I think it’s going to get better and better. We’re probably going to be using ultrasonography in treating more diseases and making more accurate diagnoses.”

Dr. Hugo Davila is with Florida Healthcare Specialists and Florida Cancer Specialists at 3730 7th Terrace, Suite 101 in Vero Beach. The phone number is 772-581-0528.

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