The Basics of Ophthalmic Ultrasonography (Video)

Ultrasound imaging is an effective method to visualize tumors on, within, and behind the eye. Ocular ultrasound machines generate sound waves that are reflected back by tissue in its path. The sound waves are then translated (by a computer) into an image.

Dr. Paul Finger has helped pioneer the use of ophthalmic ultrasound imaging in the diagnosis and treatment of eye cancers. In the following video, he presents the basic skills needed to perform ophthalmic ultrasound imaging. This includes the history of the evolution of these techniques as well as The New York Eye Cancer Center’s preferred practice patterns for evaluation of cancers of the eye and orbit.

Dr. Finger and his associates first described the use of 3D ultrasound for measurement of choroidal melanomas to document proper radioactive plaque placement and for extrascleral tumor extension. They also pioneered the use of computerized coronal C-scan ultrasound sections to measure the orbital portion of the optic nerve, to detect optic nerve sheath meningiomas and invasion of retinoblastoma into the optic nerve. Dr. Finger and his colleagues helped establish the use of high-frequency ultrasound (UBM) imaging for anterior segment tumors (melanocytoma, melanoma, cysts), and Dr. Finger has written on the use of high-frequency ultrasound for the diagnosis of conjunctival squamous carcinoma, periocular oncocytoma, Rosai Dorfman Disease, ciliary body adenocarcinoma and eyelid tumors.

This is important because high frequency ultrasound imaging is usually the best way to detect retinoblastoma hidden behind the iris, invasion of conjunctival tumors into the eye, and for measurement of iris and ciliary body tumors.

“High frequency ultrasound imaging has enabled eye cancer specialists to accurately measure anterior – iris and ciliary body – tumors, which in turn allows for eye and vision-sparing plaque radiation therapy,”Dr. Finger said.

This video not only provides a good overview of the techniques involved in ophthalmic ultrasonography, it will also point you to other resources where you can learn more.

“You have to know a little bit about ultrasound physics to be a great ophthalmic ultrasonographer.  You have to understand why you’re seeing what you’re seeing on the screen,” Dr. Finger said.

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