At Victoria General Hospital (VGH), I help patients before, during, and after surgery. As one of 42 anesthesiologists at both VGH and Royal Jubilee, I administer their anesthetics and manage their pain or nausea.
Over the last 30 years, anesthesia has become safer. This is thanks to big improvements to education, medication, and ultrasound technology.
With an ultrasound, I insert intravenous (IV) lines that go deep in the body. Under the skin, I can see the vessels and structures I’m aiming for—I can find the needle’s trajectory in real time. This allows me to work with extreme accuracy and efficiency because I know exactly where I’m going.
When I place an IV in someone whose veins are fragile, they don’t want to be poked more than once. With an ultrasound to guide me, I can locate the precise spot the very first time. Instead of taking 20 minutes, it takes two. With this equipment, we avoid discomfort and pain on a patient when they are likely most sensitive or anxious.
New ultrasounds are mobile: we go to the patient. This means patients have easier access to the answers they need—and better care. They allow us to deliver a tailor-made anesthetic for each patient.
And the role of ultrasound is expanding. We can look at someone’s lungs, heart, or abdomen in real time during surgery. When patients become unstable, we scan them right there. This helps us make critical, minute-to-minute decisions.
We also use ultrasounds to freeze targeted nerves. It’s like what your dentist does for you in your mouth. We can do that for any area of your body—a hand, a foot. We see exactly where that local anesthesia has to go.
New ultrasounds also analyze images—how the heart’s pumping, if there’s fluid in the lungs, how the valves are doing. They get to the answer faster. When they’re in the operating room, they improve how we provide care.
I use the ultrasound every single day. This is technology we cannot go without. If I don’t have access to an ultrasound, I can’t help patients to my full ability. The more we have, the better and faster our care, the more patients we help.
Dr. Jacques Smit