More commonly known as an ultrasound, medical ultrasonography is a diagnostic medical imaging technique that allows for bodily structures such as tissues, muscles, and internal organs—as well as the blood flow through various blood vessels—to be viewed in real time. Though it is known to most people as something pregnant women undergo to assess the condition of a fetus or the state of a pregnancy, an ultrasound is also used for a variety of other medical tests. A standard ultrasound machine consists of a computer, a display screen, a transducer probe, and a miniature motor in the transducer. The last of these—the motor solutions—are typically lightweight, compact and features low operating noise and vibration levels, making them ideal for many medical applications..
How It Works
An ultrasound technician holds the transducer, which is a small gadget that is attached to the scanner, then places it atop the part of the body that needs to be scanned. The surface of the body will usually be lubricated with a special kind of gel, as the transducer emits sound waves that go through the body, and bounces back as echoes.
Upon first contact with the skin, the transducer produces a stream of high-frequency sound waves into the body, which echo off fluids, tissues and organs. The sound waves are then picked up by the transducer that records minute changes in the sound’s direction and pitch. These echoes are instantly measured and displayed by the computer, which will also generates a real-time picture on the display screen for the technician, doctors, and sometimes even patients to view.
Medical ultrasonography works on the same premise as the sonar used by bats and submarines, in that any sound can bounce off just about any object, and the ensuing echo is then used to determine the distance to the object, as well as its shape, size, and density.
The Benefits of Medical Ultrasonography
Besides being a common and useful diagnostic instrument in obstetrics, ultrasound imaging has proven to be a fantastic way of guiding minimal to non-invasive procedures. It is usually utilized by physicians before conducting any invasive procedures that would involve cutting someone open to retrieve a sample, and is actually much more preferred as it allows the display of an internal organ’s present condition and function in real-time, which is an important factor in diagnosing a disease.
Ultrasonography is effective in examining muscles, ligaments, tendons, soft tissues, and joints, and demonstrates function, movement, as well as anatomy, allowing radiologists to identify and asses the condition of bodily structures. Other parts of the body that benefit from ultrasound scanning are the heart, spleen, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, bladders, and kidneys—internal organs that physicians would rather leave untouched unless an invasive surgery is absolutely necessary.
The scans assist in zeroing in on the sources of infection or pain, and since the images of the organs are taken in real-time, the movement of the organs and tissues allow doctors to observe blood flow, as well as their functions. This allows for physicians to spot any condition with accuracy, as well as provide insight into what could be wrong with a patient.
Ultrasound scanning is also a versatile way of spotting and diagnosing damage inflicted by a heart attack or other diseases. Blockages and obstructions such as kidney stones and gallstones are easily detected, as well as excessive fluid buildup, tumors, cysts, and abscesses in the abdomen. It will even detect the minutest of blood vessels for any impaired blood flow stemming from clots, or arteriosclerosis, and even the condition of the thyroid gland and scrotum—which are considered superficial rather than internal structures of the body.
To top off its convenience as a diagnostic procedure, medical ultrasonography usually does not take more than forty-five minutes to complete. This makes ultrasound machines an essential tool in any diagnostic or medical facility.