Today, we’re concluding Shannon’s series on how to write medically accurate ultrasound scenes. You can find Part I here. Today, Shannon is covering tips #3-#5.
Welcome back, Shannon!
Tip #3: Sonographers scan in the ultrasound department most of the time.
Most scans are performed in the designated ultrasound department for their exams, unless they are in active labor, in the ICU or for some astronomical reason, cannot leave their room. Even in the emergency department, if the patient can be transported to the department, then they will be.
Portable ultrasounds are performed on serious cases when the physician does not want the patient moved for some pertinent reason.
For Writers: If your character needs an ultrasound exam, is conscious, can move well, or sit in a wheelchair, send them to the ultrasound department.
Tip #4: Sonographers like top of the line equipment.
One television scene at a top-rated hospital showed a tiny little ultrasound machine from the 1990’s being used for the exam. Seriously?
Get rid of the outdated equipment. The machines in top-rated healthcare systems are the best of the best, large and full-sized pieces of equipment.
Modern portable systems look like laptops, are smaller, and are taken to the inpatient rooms or ICU.
Some facilities provide their ER and L&D doctors with tiny devices the size of a cell phone to carry in their pocket for quick peeks, not full anatomy exams.
For Writers: When describing the machine look at top of the line equipment with GE, Philips, Samsung or other manufacturers. This will give you a good idea of what is being used in the real medical world.
Tip #5: Sonographers know where to place the probe.
Make sure the anatomy showing on the screen matches the location of the probe and the anatomy being discussed is displayed.
One television scene I witnessed had the actor place the probe in the middle of the abdomen, but a kidney presented on the screen. Sonographers know the kidneys are located on the sides of the abdomen, not in the top middle.
If you’re listening to the baby’s heart on a second or third trimester baby, then the heart will display on the screen. Not the brain, fingers, and toes.
If investigating the liver, then the probe needs to be placed on the right side of the abdomen. With the spleen, move the probe to the left side.
If it is a first trimester scan, then a vaginal exam will be performed. If the baby is in the second or third trimester, then the probe is placed on top of the abdomen.
For writers: Research anatomy and physiology on the internet or in books before writing the ultrasound scene. Make sure the location is correct and the disease process is represented accurately. If unsure, then find a nurse, physician or medical professional to ask or connect with Jordyn and me.
When researching a specific topic, perform a google search, but select a credible source. Choose sites that end with .edu, .org, or .gov. Those tend to be most accurate. Sometimes I will use others, but always back it up with a healthcare system education site like Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, or the government site (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).
Don’t be like one famous author, whose patient’s venous blood clot, located in the leg, traveled to the brain and caused a stroke. However, in real life, strokes most often come from the carotid arteries and heart. Venous blood clots in the legs kill when they break off and travel to the lungs.
Shannon, thank you so much for this valuable insight. I know I learned a lot.
Shannon Moore Redmon writes Romance Suspense stories, to entertain and share the gospel truth of Jesus Christ. Her stories dive into the healthcare environment where Shannon holds over twenty years of experience as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. Her extensive work experience includes Radiology, Obstetrics/Gynecology and Vascular Surgery.
As the former Education Manager for GE Healthcare, she developed her medical professional network across the country. Today, Shannon teaches ultrasound at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and utilizes many resources to provide accurate healthcare research for authors requesting her services.
She is a member of the ACFW and Blue Ridge Mountain Writer’s Group. Shannon is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. She lives and drinks too much coffee in North Carolina with her husband, two boys and her white foo-foo dog, Sophie.