As we approach a year in our new facility, Western New York BloodCare continues to do everything we can to develop state-of-the-art technologies and treatments. This includes our quality care, of course, which we have improved by seeking out and obtaining the best equipment for evaluation and diagnosis.
One of the items is an ultrasound machine lovingly referred to as MSKUS. MSKUS stands for Musculoskeletal Ultrasound and ours is portable which allows us to complete scans in the office.
This is a sensitive and incredibly useful tool for our facility. It’s so dynamic that there are specific trainings that providers can attend in order to maximize the effective usage of the device, and we are excited to have it.
In this month’s blog, we spoke with Dawn Harrison, our family nurse practitioner. She has taken some time to discuss this amazing piece of equipment, and how it helps us in our work.
We asked Dawn what MSKUS does, and how it used at Western New York BloodCare. “Musculoskeletal ultrasound is important because it can provide visual evidence of joint health which can be used as motivator for the importance of prophylaxis,” she explained. “It can also be used to help diagnose joint bleeding, especially in clinical scenarios where it is unclear if it is a joint bleed due to patient symptoms, or just simply pain from arthritis,” said Dawn Harrison, MSN, FNP-BC.
It is important that our providers be able to define the difference because people with a bleeding disorder like hemophilia, can’t make an important protein that helps their blood clot. In severe cases of hemophilia, bleeding into joints might occur as much as once or twice per week. Recognizing that a joint bleed is a complication of a bleeding disorder could potentially be lifesaving.
Dawn told us that MSKUS is essential for improving results. “MSKUS (musculoskeletal ultrasound) can document changes in cartilage resulting from osteoarthritis and synovitis - chronic inflammation of the synovial membrane surrounding the joint. When combined with power doppler, MSKUS can detect inflammation and abnormal blood flow. MSKUS has the ability to confirm the presence or absence of blood in a joint.
“For patients, this can lead to improvements in treatment of bleeding. Joints can be ultrasounded multiple times during a bleed with very low risk to patients, to look for bleed resolution. It also allows patients to visualize the amount of damage that has been done due to recurrent bleeds in the joint and change their lifestyles to prevent joints from deteriorating faster, with the goal of helping joints last longer.”
This process is for the distinct betterment of the patients. “It is beneficial to patients [because it] helps to distinguish the difference between the pain of having a bleed and the pain of having some arthritis or tendinitis changes. It can also help convince patients that they are having a bleed based on fluid that is seen in joints and that they require treatment for the bleed. If the patient is not on prophylaxis and has recurrent bleeds, this can help visualize bleeding and may help them to see the importance of prophylaxis to help prevent bleeding episodes with factor replacement. We can also change prophylaxis regimens to be more aggressive if in baseline imaging of joints we find that there is signs of arthropathy (damage to joints from bleeding) to prevent further arthropathy.”
It is important for our providers to find a balance in providing factor to the patients, and the MSKUS machine can assist our providers with evidence to increase treatments if necessary.
Our focus has always been on providing the best possible care for our patients, and as we grow our inventory of tools in this pursuit, our community can be reassured in the knowledge that we will continue to grow too in our understanding and application of those tools. With improvements in technology and scientific advancement, we are committed to remaining among the best facilities in the country.