Kenneth W. Chin (M.D., F.A.C.R.) gives expert video advice on: How does ultrasound work?; Is ultrasound safe?; Why has ultrasound been controversial? and more...
What is an 'ultrasound'?
Ultrasound is a diagnostic imaging modality that uses high frequencies sound waves in order to look into the body.
How does ultrasound work?
Ultrasound works on the basis of high frequency sound waves that are sent into the body. Reflections or echos are then listened for by the equipment. These echos are then reprocessed and images of the body are then formed.
How does ultrasound differ from other radiological exams?
Ultrasound differs from other radiological examinations in that the images are obtained through a hand held transducer or device which allows us to direct that device to any specific part of the body.
Where did ultrasound technology originate?
Ultrasound technology originated from radar technology during World War 11. This was then adapted for diagnostic purposes.
When is ultrasound used?
Ultrasound is used frequently when some parts of the body need to be imaged, when we don't want to use any ionizing radiation. Examples include looking at developing foetuses in pregnant women. In some instances we need to look at the gall bladder for gall stones. These are two very common instances for us to use ultrasound.
What does the equipment used for ultrasound look like?
Ultrasound equipment is housed in a box which can come in different sizes. Ultrasound equipment It contains computer equipment, which analyzes the information that is received from what we call a transducer, which is usually a handheld device, which is placed on your body.
Why do doctors perform ultrasound on pregnant women?
Ultrasound is performed on pregnant women because it gives us some detailed information about the developing baby and with regard to the mother's uterus. This can be done without using any ionizing radiation.
How do doctors use ultrasound to estimate a due date in pregnancy?
Doctors use ultrasound to determine a due date on the basis of the size of the fetus and the size of various parts of the body, such as the size of the baby's head, or their abdomen, or their extremeties.
Is ultrasound safe?
By and large ultrasound is safe. It doesn't require the use of any ionizing radiation. However like any other imaging technology it should be used by individuals who are trained in their use because of some potential unknown effects.
Why has ultrasound been controversial?
Ultrasound has been controversial in the past in some instances because it is a relatively easy-to-use technology, so that anybody can use it, it seems. However, in order to safely use it and know what you're looking at requires training. There also has been some controversy with regard to the use of the information that can be gotten from ultrasound examinations. Such as examination of the developing foetus. In Massachusetts a law had been passed where a pregnant woman who was seeking abortion had to have an ultrasound examination and look at that ultrasound examination to be sure that they wanted to terminate this pregnancy.
How has ultrasound evolved in the past 10 years?
Ultrasound has evolved significantly in the past 10 years with development of some additional technologies, including the use of Doppler Ultrasound in order to evaluate blood flow in a detailed fashion. In addition, three dimensional Ultrasound is now available which can allow us to look at, for instance, developing fetus in a three dimensional fashion. Additional technologies are now available using Ultrasound where we can get much higher resolution images as well.
What kind of ultrasound is done on children?
Ultrasound can be very useful in the medical imaging of children because it does not require to use the ionizing radiation. Children who are moving or perhaps not cooperative not to have the CT scan or an MRIs scan can have the ultrasound examination to visualize some part of their body.