The Morning Blend


New ultrasound technology provides more accuracy for obese patients

Posted at 3:53 PM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 17:53:12-05

Due to perceptions, tools, and established practices, the healthcare system does not always offer equal treatment for the rising population of patients with a high Body Mass Index (BMI). Often out of embarrassment or fear of stigma, people with high BMIs choose not to seek regular medical screenings and are, therefore, more likely to have undiagnosed medical conditions. In some instances, healthcare providers do not have diagnostic devices designed for extra weight or body mass.

In particular, ultrasound systems, one of the most widely-used imaging devices and key enabler of precision medicine, are most affected by extra body mass. Ultrasound systems work by emitting high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs and structures in a patient’s body. These soundwaves are affected by a patient’s size, weakening as they travel through increased depths of tissue. For this reason, ultrasound scans on patients with high BMIs do not produce images with the same clarity as those of patients with a normal BMI. In turn, this often means a patient has to be re-scanned because the original image captured cannot provide a clinician with enough detail for a thorough or accurate diagnosis. Repeat scans may lead to increased patient anxiety and possibly higher medical costs due to multiple visits.

In order to address these unmet needs of both physicians and patients, Siemens Healthineers developed the new ACUSON Sequoia ultrasound system, which provides clinicians the ability to scan all patients with high accuracy and image quality, regardless of BMI.

Statistics – Prevalence and Health Risk of High BMI:

  • 100 million, or one in three, Americans have a BMI of 30 or more (categorized as obese), a rate that has steadily grown for more than two decades
  • More than 15 million Americans have a BMI of 40 or more (categorized as extreme obesity)
  • Nearly half of the U.S. population is expected to be categorized as obese by 2030 (47%)
  • Patients with high BMIs are 1.65 times more likely to have significant undiagnosed medical conditions
  • High BMIs put patients at greater risk for many medical conditions including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer
  • For many diseases, such as cancer, patients with high BMIs tend to have worse outcomes and a higher risk of death — a difference that holds for every type of cancer