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Ultra-Precise Ultrasound Technology

Ultra-Precise GE Ultrasound Technology at St. Luke's Perinatal Center

Leads to earlier detection and treatment. Triplets born to New Jersey couple benefit from new technology

Starting their own family together was important for Cynthia and Marcus Purdie of Stewartsville, New Jersey. Married just two years, the couple soon learned they were expecting triplets.

It wasn't long before Cynthia, 45, started seeing specialists at St. Luke's Perinatal Center in Bethlehem for her care. “I needed to find a good perinatologist in the area and research led me to St. Luke's,” says Cynthia, a psychology professor at William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey.

What the Purdies did not realize at the time became an important part of the diagnostic care during the pregnancy. St. Luke's Perinatal Center recently became one of three GE Healthcare show sites in the northeastern United States, having installed state-of-the-art ultrasound technology at all four of its Perinatal Centers in the region.

Diagnostic ultrasounds with the new technology beginning in the fifth month of Cynthia's pregnancy allowed St. Luke's perinatologists at the Center to keep a close watch on the triplets. Then, at 27 ½ weeks gestation, Cynthia had experienced some contracting. “I thought all this was part of the normal pain of pregnancy,” she says, “but the ultrasound showed the smallest baby was not receiving the proper blood flow so essential to help her grow and sustain her life. She was not thriving; her face was pressed up against the uterine wall.”

An immediate delivery was necessary and the babies were placed in St. Luke's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She named her smallest, most compromised baby, Leilani, which means heavenly gift. Today, Leilani and her siblings are doing well. “I truly believe this special ultrasound technology saved Leilani's life,” says Cynthia. “It gave the doctors the critical information they needed to make the decision to deliver at the right time.” The triplets were born February 28, 2008.

“These advanced ultrasound technologies allow us to see and evaluate the unborn fetus as never before, says Albert Sarno, MD, Section Chief, Perinatal Services, St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network. “The high resolution images with the new GE technology are just so clear. In many cases, it is allowing us to make an earlier diagnosis of anomalies; Leilani's case is an example of that.”

Traditional ultrasound images are two-dimensional, and clinicians 'create' three-dimensional images in their minds. This new technology allows physicians to see images in 3D and in greater detail, in a safe and generally non-invasive way, distinguishing the tiniest structures with the ultimate clarity. Also, these systems combine real-time motion with three-dimensional images, allowing for more advanced studies.

Earlier detection often means earlier, more effective treatment. “We are able to diagnose and, in some cases treat, fetal problems prenatally,” says Dr. Sarno. “Lifesaving examples include intrauterine fetal transfusion in cases of Rh disease, where, without the availability of this intricate procedure, death or very premature delivery would occur. Also, prenatal detection of fetal developmental problems allow us to educate the family, monitor fetal health during the pregnancy and plan for the most optimal place, time and method of delivery. This is particularly true of congenital heart disease and neural tube defects such as spina bifida where optimizing management results in better survival and fewer long-lasting complications.”

As for the Purdie family, Cynthia is delighted with the triplet's progress. All three have recently come home from the hospital. “We are grateful for our new family; I do believe this new technology saved Leilani's life,” she says.

About the technology

St. Luke's has installed the GE Voluson 8 and Voluson 730 Expert ultrasound technology at all four of its Perinatal Center locations, including the newest Perinatal Suite in the Doctors' Pavilion at 701 Ostrum Street in Bethlehem. This newest ultrasound technology allows for ultra-precise image quality, detecting the finest details earlier in the pregnancy.

The new Perinatal Suite in Bethlehem appropriately opens the day after Mother's Day, Monday, May 12, 2008; this center was formerly located in the main hospital. St. Luke's Perinatal Center, also with locations in Allentown, Quakertown and Wind Gap, has been offering high quality, state-of-the-art clinical care for high-risk pregnancies for the past 16 years. Demand for this service has grown, with annual visits at St. Luke's Perinatal Centers exceeding 15,000.