“When you look at the advances in the technology of ultrasound, it’s been tremendous in the last five to 10 years,” Hoppmann said.
One USC medical student who quickly learned the importance of ultrasound technology is Christine Lawrence, whose own thyroid condition was detected during a practice ultrasound screening in class.
As a first-year medical student, Lawrence was the “patient” being scanned in ultrasound class. As the doctor guided the ultrasound equipment, he found a lesion on her thyroid. After a biopsy, Lawrence learned she had thyroid cancer on New Year’s Eve, 2009. In January 2010 she had her thyroid removed and had follow-up procedures over spring break and the winter holidays, timed so she wouldn’t have to miss class.
Now the second-year medical student from Liberty takes thyroid medication every day. And she truly understands the value of ultrasound.
“I was a believer in ultrasound anyway, but this definitely demonstrated the importance of it,” Lawrence said. “You can see something a lot easier than feeling for it. If I hadn’t had the ultrasound, I’m not sure when it would have been found.”
Lawrence plans a career in family medicine, where she plans to use ultrasound as part of her practice.
“You can sit there and look at something and not have to send a patient somewhere else where it will be more expensive, it will take more time and the patient will be less likely to do it,” she said.
Because ultrasound is portable, inexpensive and easy to use, it’s also the perfect diagnostic tool in rural areas or developing countries, Hoppmann said. It can be used by primary-care physicians or nurse practitioners, particularly in rural areas where there are not many specialists.
Hoppmann is also president of the Society of Ultrasound in Medical Education, an organization created to bring medical educators and practitioners together to help direct this revolutionary change in medicine. He said the World Congress will showcase the USC School of Medicine’s work in ultrasound and the city of Columbia. GE Healthcare is the corporate benefactor for the event.
“It’s truly going to be a world congress,” Hoppmann said. “We’ve had commitments from all over the world – Germany, Italy, India, Bulgaria, Australia. Having this platform for the School of Medicine and the University of South Carolina and the Columbia community is wonderful. This is a huge opportunity for us.”