If you've read the first booklet in this series "The USCOM and Hemodynamics" then you may be getting the idea that the USCOM is an exciting new tool in clinical medicine. What this booklet aims to do is to show you just how you can use the USCOM in your clinical practice and just how the USCOM can help the treatment of your patients. No matter what area of medicine you practice in, there is probably a suitable application where the USCOM can improve the way you currently practice and improve the outcomes for your patients. Although this booklet is structured according to the hospital departments where the USCOM has been used successfully, it is probably worth reading those other areas outside of your own department too, as this will give you both help in interpreting USCOM findings and perhaps some new ideas for uses of your own.
When interpreting the data produced by the USCOM it is always worth recalling that very seldom in clinical medicine is a diagnosis based on one single finding or lab result. On the contrary, it is usually a pattern of clinical findings and other data which supplies the diagnosis. When looking at any USCOM examination, you should always look at the full data output and try to visualise just what is happening in the cardiovascular system as a whole. The heart does not work in isolation, nor does the peripheral vascular system exist without the heart and the connecting arteries. Visualising the circulation as one entire functional unit will tell you so much more than inspection of just one parameter. You should also remember that the prime function of the heart and circulation is to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Whenever you look at an USCOM evaluation it is always worth thinking about the level of oxygen delivery, DO2, to the tissues.
So let's get down to some real clinical cases and show you just how powerful the USCOM can be!