The Medical University Innsbruck is the most important medical research and education institution in Austria. With a total of approximately 3,000 students and 2,000 employees, it focuses on teaching and education, as well as the highest levels of research.
In particular, the University is one of Europe’s leading centers in nerve sonography and pain therapy. In fact, it has acquired a worldwide reputation for this expertise in this over many years. Specifically, ultrasound guided pain therapy in the spine has mostly been developed by the University, which has published many scientific papers on its ground-breaking techniques.
“We have become an international training center over the past few years, visited by colleagues from all over the world to learn about ultrasound guided infiltrations in the spine.” – Dr. Alexander Loizides. Vice-Head of the Department of Interventional and Diagnostic Sonography of Radiology of the Medical University Innsbruck/ Tyrol Hospitals.
“What was the stethoscope in earlier times is more and more replaced by ultrasound today.”- Dr. Hannes Gruber. Head of the Medical University Innsbruck/Tyrol Hospitals.
The capacity of the University in this field has grown from the expertise of two leading specialists: Dr. Alexander Loizides, Head of the ÖGUM (The Austrian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine) Working Committee Musculoskeletal Sonography and Interventional Sonography and Vice-Head of the Department of Interventional and Diagnostic Sonography of Radiology at the Medical University Innsbruck/ Tyrol Hospitals; and PD Dr. Hannes Gruber, Head of the Medical University Innsbruck/Tyrol Hospitals and ÖGUM Working Committee Nerve Sonography.
Ultra-high frequency probes
With substantial technical progress made in recent years in designing and constructing new ultrasound probes that are able to generate increasingly higher sound frequencies, the temporal and especially the spatial resolution of the imaging that these probes can offer has improved significantly. Ultrasound probes offer comparatively low costs and zero radiation dose.
“When 10 MHz probes were used, we could display and assess large nerves: Thanks to technical advances in hardware and software, optimized post-processing, and especially due to the development of ultra-high frequency probes with frequencies of up to 33 MHz, even the tiniest nerves and nerve branches with diameters markedly below one millimeter can now be imaged in detail and assessed with high accuracy. This is a ground-breaking development in nerve sonography,” explained Dr. Loizides.
The ultimate 33MHz probe
The University Innsbruck uses Canon Medical’s latest Aplio i800 ultrasound features a 33MHz Active Matrix Transducer.
“Using Canon Medical’s ultrasound probe – THE ultimate 33MHz probe currently available – has really expanded our knowledge in nerve sonography. Previously, it was generally thought that tiny nerves/nerve branches were monofascicular. Now, we know that this is not true: by using the ultra-high-resolution of the 33 MHz probe, we can prove that even the smallest branches consist of several fascicles after all. This insight leads to entirely new approaches in the diagnosis and therapy of nerve pathologies,” said Dr. Loizides.
Innovative SMI (Superb Microvascular Imaging) ultrasound technology enables a big step forward from duplex sonography and, therefore, in diagnostic accuracy. Pathologies can now be diagnosed not only based on questionable reliable surrogate markers, but more directly and in more detail.
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