Ultrasound conference will teach frontline practitioners to save lives

When he was 22 years old and about to begin medical school, Northeastern’s team physician Gian Corrado was playing pickup basketball when one of the other players dropped dead in front of him.

Gian Corrado, team physician for Northeastern University Photo by Adam Glanzman

Since that day, he has dedicated a significant portion of his medical career to prevent similar tragedies.

“Every year, 150 young men—one every three days—die in this country from sudden cardiac death that went undetected by conventional screening techniques,” said Corrado.

Corrado has dedicated 10 years of research to developing an early detection protocol to identify high-risk individuals that is more effective than physical exams, family histories, and EKGs.

He believes he has the answer: ultrasound.

“There is no doubt that ultrasound is going to replace the stethoscope,” he said. “Right now, doctors use a stethoscope to listen to your heart and abdomen. It’s archaic. With this new ultrasound technology, doctors can actually look at your heart, lungs, and aorta.”

To bring this breakthrough technology into the mainstream, Corrado and Bouvé College Associate Dean of Clinical Education, Rehabilitation and New Initiatives Maura Iversen, have teamed up with Boston Children’s Hospital to sponsor all-day conference Saturday, June 1 at Northeastern Behrakis Health Science Center in Boston. (See the conference website for more information on registration and the agenda.)

This conference gives frontline providers—doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and physical therapists—hands-on training. The goal is to detect physical abnormalities before disaster strikes.

The conference will feature a combination of lectures and hands-on training, and will provide participants with 8.25 hours of certified continuing education credits (see the website for details). In addition to Corrado, the conference faculty will include experts from Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“True to the mission of Northeastern University’s Bouvé College, this conference will be an interprofessional experiential learning opportunity where participants can learn how to properly assess multiple organ systems,” said  Iversen, co-chair of the conference.

The future is now

Corrado first saw the enormous potential of ultrasound while practicing emergency medicine on the South Side of Chicago. It was the late 1990s and portable ultrasounds were just coming into use. At that time, they were extremely expensive, so their use at the time was limited to large emergency care organizations.

In 2004 Corrado made the move to sports medicine and accepted his current position at Boston Children’s Hospital. The following year, he also became the team physician at Northeastern, where he serves as interim director of the university’s Physician’s Assistant program.

Since then, he has witnessed the evolution of ultrasound from extremely expensive devices to affordable, ultra-portable, devices that can be plugged into a laptop.

Over the last decade, Corrado has led a team of Northeastern researchers, publishing a dozen articles on the effectiveness of ultrasound as a sophisticated diagnostic tool.

“Our team was inspired by the potential of these devices to be used by frontline providers,” said Corrado, who also serves as the physician for the Boston Ballet and the Boston Marathon.

His broader goal is to inspire primary care providers to use ultrasound in everyday practice for diagnosing issues with the lungs, kidneys musculoskeletal system, and more. This is the driving force behind the June 1 conference: Northeastern University’s Hands-on Ultrasound Symposium for Frontline Providers.

“At Northeastern, we want to push that agenda so that this happens in the next five years instead of the next twenty,” said Corrado. “Practitioners need to get out there and answer some simple bedside question using ultrasound. And they need to start now. This saves lives.”

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