Rotterdam, Netherlands ambulance paramedics trained to diagnose AAA condition in transport

March 08, 2016

Amsterdam, 19th of January 2016.

[This is translated to English from the Netherland’s news paper]

The ambulances in Rotterdam Netherlands during the coming 5 months are equipped with ultrasound imaging that could be life saving with people with an AAA.

Special ambulance paramedics are trained to use ultrasound to be able to diagnose AAA condition quicker and more accurately. This pilot is unique in the Netherlands and initiative from vascular surgeon Jerome van Brussel from the Sint Franciscus Hospital. He and his colleagues from other regional hospitals in Rotterdam arranged with an ultrasound manufacturer from the USA to have two portable ultrasound machines on board of their ambulances.

This on-time ultrasound imaging will be used on all kinds of patients. Even a patient with a hip fracture will be asked to collaborate in this pilot study to expose 5 ambulance specialist to ultrasound imaging under supervision of an experienced EMED doctor. Presently we focus on getting the aorta visualized as soon as possible according to Jerome van Brussel. In the future in situations where time is essential, the ambulance specialist can diagnose all kinds of life-threatening situation in seconds. A correct diagnose is of great importance. People with abdominal pain often are transported to hospitals where out of precaution an operating room and team are standby. In two out of three patients it is false alarm thus a waist of resources.

Ultrasound is also useful for other clinical situations. All 55 ambulances in the Rotterdam region should be equipped with portable ultrasound according to Jerome van Brussel vascular surgeon. This way the ambulance team can assess at home or in the ambulance whether it is necessary to go to the hospital. The first test results are positive. In 23 patient using of this portable ultrasound device the aorta could visualized within 10 seconds by newly trained paramedics. Saving time is key in these situations and could save lives in certain conditions. Every year hundreds of people call the ambulance because of severe abdominal pain. About 60 of them will be operated because of a life threatening ruptured aortic aneurysm. Ambulance specialist Geert-Jan Deddens from the ambulance care Rotterdam suspects that the real number of patients is much higher. Several patients with an aneurysm will never be identified. He is advocates the use of ultrasound in several acute conditions.

These patients are typical above 60 years have poor diets, smoke and have high blood pressure. Some of them have genetic problems. Geert- Jan Deddens expects that ultrasound imaging has the future. You can use this technique for several other acute situations like cardiac arrest, internal bleedings or even fractures. Patients with acute aortic problems from our region are allowed to be treated by 4 specialized regional hospitals according to the ministry of health. So identifying the problem is before going to the hospital is essential. Published in the January 19 edition of the Algemeen Dagblad, The Netherlands.

N.B. Scope of practice and pre-hospital workflow with highly portable ultrasound varies based on country and jurisdiction.


Specially trained paramedics in action making an abdominal ultrasound