Physician: Jung Hwan Baek, MD, Associate Professor
Facility: University of Ulsan, Asan Medical Center
Featured Product: VirtuTRAX
Q. How did you become interested in the ultrasound field?
A. I am fascinated with ultrasound-guided minimally invasive procedures such as thyroid biopsy or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) because the outcomes of the procedures absolutely depend on the operators’ skill. Therefore, we, our thyroid team, have developed these techniques for thyroid disease.
Q. How did you become interested in using CIVCO’s eTRAX™ Needle Tip Tracking and VirtuTRAX™ Instrument Navigator guidance systems?
A. My Italian friend and colleague, Professor Turtulici, applied the VirtuTRAX needle tracking system to his thyroid patients. I then found that this technique is useful for my patients. We are going to develop this technique for both beginners and experts in the field.
Q. What procedures do you most commonly perform when using needle guidance?
A. In our department, most ultrasound-guided procedures are performed with needle guidance. Only very easy procedures are performed without the use of a needle guide including drainage of large volumes of pleural fluid and ascites in the abdomen.
Q. What procedures do you most commonly perform when using needle tracking?
A. I primarily perform radiofrequency ablation of thyroid and neck tumors.
Q. Describe your current role at your facility and how you approach education of clinicians when using ultrasound.
A. I am associate professor in the Department of Radiology and Research Institute of Radiology at the University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. I promote advanced technique also through publication. I am a published author of several textbooks and chapters in books; First and Corresponding author for several scientific papers, both international and domestic; author of several hundred scientific presentations and posters and nearly 80 guest presentations. I further promote such techniques as a member or committee member of several associations including: the Korean Medical Association, Korean Society of Radiology, Korean Society of Thyroid Radiology, Korean Society of Neuroradiology and Head and Neck Radiology, Korean Thyroid Association, Korean Society of Image-guided Tumor Ablation, Korean Society of Ultrasound in Medicine and the Asia and Oceania Thyroid Association.
Q. Describe a time when needle tracking helped you avoid or reduce challenges or complications.
A. When we initialize a thyroid radiofrequency ablation, the transient hyperechoic zone disturbs visualization of the electrode tip. During the insertion of the electrode into the thyroid nodule, the VirtuTRAX Instrument Navigator allows continuous monitoring of the electrode tip.
Q. With regards to needle tracking technology, what advice would you offer physicians entering the profession?
A. The VirtuTRAX device could increase the accuracy and the outcome of thyroid radiofrequency ablation while reducing the complication rate, shortening the procedure time and learning curve. Therefore, we recommend this system for beginners as well as experts in this field.
Q. In your professional opinion, where do you think the future of ultrasound is headed?
A. In radiofrequency ablation, monitoring the electrode tip during ablation of a thyroid nodule with electromagnetic technique (VirtuTRAX) is feasible and helpful to increase the safety of the procedure.