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The diagnostic tool of choice for sinusitis

Finland and ENTlab have been at the cutting edge of developing and using sinus ultrasound. Physicians and nurses can diagnose sinusitis very effectively with the help of ENTlab’s Ultramax units and eliminate a large proportion of unnecessary antibiotic treatment.

Ultrasound is increasingly replacing radiography in the diagnosis of sinusitis – and for good reason. clinical examination is also less than reliable in diagnosing acute maxillary sinusitis; studies indicate that only half of patients clinically diagnosed with maxillary sinusitis have actually been found to have fluid in their sinuses following an ultrasound examination.

This means that the number of antibiotic prescriptions written for patients in primary care in this category could be reduced by half, in theory at least – saving both money and helping reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics, which is seeing a growing number of antibioticresistant bacteria emerge.

Ultrasound offers a fast, reliable, and radiationfree method for diagnosing sinusitis, and has been used successfully in Finland for around 20 years. More than 50% of diagnoses are based on ultrasound today, only one third on clinical examinations, and the remainder on X-ray examinations.

Easy to use and accurate

A specialist in developing, manufacturing, and marketing medical technology devices for diagnosing ear, nose, and throat diseases, ENTlab entered the ultrasound field early on.

Its latest product, the Ultramax SinusUltra, is a handheld, cordless sinus ultrasound device designed to produce safe, reliable, and highly accurate results when used by primary care doctors and nurses.

Featuring a bright organic lightemitting diode (Oled) display, the SinusUltra can detect fluid, air, and even a cyst in the sinus, and send the result to a PC wirelessly. doctors can then write up their diagnoses and comments, including test data, save them, and print them out for the patient. The bright Oled display makes reading off the result easy, whatever the ambient light conditions. FlUID or AIR is displayed, depending on what is revealed by the ultrasonic beam. This beam is reflected from the posterior wall of the sinus when the sinus contains fluid (pus), and from the anterior wall when the sinus contains air.

ETTlab also offers the Ultramax A3 as a fast, inexpensive, safe, and efficient ultrasound device for detecting sinusitis. Featuring an LED display, functional design, and compact size, this also delivers excellent accuracy.

ENTlab’s Ultramax units can make the use of X-ray examinations to detect sinusitis largely redundant.

EU guidelines recommend avoiding the use of X-ray examinations on a routine basis for diagnosing conditions such as sinusitis wherever possible, particularly in the case of children under five – primarily to avoid exposing patients to unnecessary radiation.

Studies have shown that ultrasound offers a sensitivity of 92% and a specificity of 95%, compared to radiography, in diagnosing sinusitis. With practice and training, primary care physicians can perform sinus ultrasound examinations as accurately as specialists. All of which is making ultrasound the diagnostic tool of choice for more and more physicians in detecting sinusitis.

> Elias Revonta
(Published in HighTech Finland 2011)