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The Uses of Ultrasounds

Inesaira Rodriguez Date Informational Technologies

Inesaira Rodriguez


Do you know a piece of technology that is used everyday? Ultrasound sonography is used in everyday lives. It can be used in many ways. Ultrasound sonography is a helpful technology that many people use for medical and health reasons. It can be used to look at a baby inside a women’s stomach when they are pregnant and check a person’s body to see if they have a medical problem with their insides. It can be compared to x-rays but there are some differences between each of them. There are many different types of ultrasound technology. Ultrasound technology exposes a part of the body to high frequency sound waves. This helps create pictures of the inside of the body. Some parts you can see through an ultrasound are the heart and blood vessels, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, bladder, uterus, ovaries, a fetus, and scrotum. This technology does not use ionizing technology, which is used in x-rays. Ultrasound images show the structure and the movement of the internal organs because they are taken in real-time. Also, you can see the blood flowing through the blood vessels in the images. Ultrasound imaging is test done by physicians that help them diagnose and treat medical conditions. They can see symptoms such as pain, swelling, and infection. The images show the body in thin, flat sections. A part of an ultrasound examination can be a Doppler ultrasound study. A Doppler ultrasound is a special technique used in ultrasound that evaluates blood velocity as it goes through a blood vessel. This includes the body’s major arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs, and neck. There are different types of Doppler ultrasound. One is a color Doppler that uses a computer to change Doppler measurements into a selection of colors to picture the speed and direction of blood flow through a blood vessel. Another is the power Doppler which a technique that is more sensitive than color Doppler and it does not determine

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the direction of blood flow. The third type is Spectral Doppler which shows blood flow measurements graphically to show the distance traveled per unit of time. These images help a physician to see blockages to blood flow, which are clots, narrowing of vessels, which are caused by plaques, and tumors and congenital malformation. They also help a physician to establish if a patient is eligible for a procedure like angioplasty, which is a reopening of a blood vessel. Some advancements in ultrasound technology are three-dimensional (3-D) and fourdimensional (4-D). They are both realistic pictures that give expecting parents a visual experience to see their child in the stomach. They let the parents see how their baby looks and see if there is anything wrong with the baby. The difference between 3-D and 4-D ultrasound is that 4-D represents the difference between video and still photograph. Trained and licensed ultrasound technologist performs these ultrasounds. They know how to specially use the machine to do these ultrasounds. Since 1950, ultrasound has been used safely. Everyday, in the U.S., over 80 million ultrasound examinations are performed. “There has been no confirmed adverse biological effects to mothers or their babies caused by exposure from ultrasound instruments” (See 3D). Multiple women, who are pregnant, have many ultrasounds during their pregnancy and have no kinds of effects on the baby. Ultrasounds come with both benefits and risks. Most ultrasounds are not painful. They do not use needles or injections. Health problems are not caused by ultrasounds. Ultrasounds are the mainly used tools for monitoring pregnant women and their unborn babies. They are also mainly use for the diagnosis of pregnant women. “Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images” (Radiological Society of North America). There are no risks for ultrasounds. There are no known effects that were harmful to humans due

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to ultrasounds. Breast ultrasounds have discovered tumors n have been saving people lives for decades and transvaginal ultrasound had been really helpful in women’s health. In the 1960s, ultrasound was discovered. It went through improvisations until the 1980s. Ultrasound is considered the most useful and helpful technology in the medical field. The equipment that is used is a transducer. A transducer generates the sound waves. In 1942, Dr. Karl Theodore published a paper based on “medical ultrasonic”. The paper was about the ultrasound images of human brain. He was the first to detect brain tumors. He was also the first to find abnormalities in the head, tissue, and body fluids. He produced the first diagnosis by ultrasound images of the brain. “He used a method in which a transducer was placed on both sides of the patient and submerged in water. The patient's head was partially under water as well. They transmitted sound waves toward the patient at a known rate. The echos were then recorded on heat sensitive paper. These were among the first ultrasound images and the first to diagnose brain tumors.” (Genesis)

There are limits in getting an ultrasound. Ultrasound waves can be interrupted by gas or air. It is not a technique used for the bowel or organs hidden by the bowel. CT scanning and MRI are the best techniques used for that. Large patients are more difficult to do an ultrasound scanning because their tissues weaken the sound waves as they go deeper in the body. Ultrasounds have trouble penetrating bones and can only see then outside surface of the boney structures. Ultrasounds are not mainly used for looking at bones in the body. MRI and other scanning tests other than ultrasound are used to look at bones. Ultrasound and MRI are alike because they both do not do any harm to a person’s body and are performed without using radiation. They also both produce still and moving images of the inside of the body. In a MRI, a person is place under a large chamber and for an ultrasound you are not placed under anything. CT scans use radiation to look at the insides of a body. It is used to look at bleeding in the brain, tumors, inflammation of organs, and fractures. Ultrasound, CT scanning, and MRI are all used to

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see the insides of the body without surgery. In most ultrasound exams, the patient is usually lying on their back on an examination table. A gel is applied to the part of the body where it is getting examined. The gel helps the transducer make contact with the body and eliminates air spaces between the transducer and the body. The radiologist puts the transducer on the body and can see the inside of the body of which they are looking at in a screen. The radiologist tells the patient what they see as they look around. Depending on what examination a patient is getting, the examination would take up to half an hour to an hour. If the scanning is performed over an area that is tender, minor pain will be felt because of the transducer. Some exams need to have the transducer put into an opening of the body and it might cause discomfort for the patient. Ultrasounds are used in pregnancy. It can determine how many weeks is a person pregnant which is also the age of the fetus. It can also determine if the baby is a boy or girl. If the baby is one baby, twins, triplets, etc. The baby’s heart beat can be checked through a Doppler ultrasound. The pregnant woman can hear her baby’s heartbeat as soon as she finds out she is pregnant. Every time a patient goes to her regularly pregnancy appointment, she would get a Doppler ultrasound to check the baby’s heartbeat. An ultrasound for pregnancy can determine if a female has had a miscarriage. It can tell because it can see a blighted ovum in a women’s stomach but no fetus and no heartbeat. That means a baby was once it there but the women had a miscarriage or a missed abortion. Also ultrasounds are used to check if any thing is wrong with a pregnancy such as bleeding inside the woman. Transvaginal ultrasounds are done with specially designed probes in which the probe is placed inside a patient through the vagina. This method of ultrasound provides better images especially for those who are obese and those who are early in pregnancy. They use this method

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on obese people because it is harder to see their insides through a regular ultrasound due to their many tissues. It is easier for those who are early in pregnancy because the probe can go in closer to the uterus and can see the baby more. Since they are early in pregnancy the woman’s uterus is not as high and is low enough for the probe to go inside. Vaginal ultrasounds come with a risk in pregnancy for the baby. In recent tests, a number of fetal abnormalities have been happening and because of that vaginal scans are becoming less used in early pregnancies. Ultrasound can help a physician to guide a needle into a body. For example, if a physician needs to put a needle in a patient’s vein and can not find the specific vein then the physician can use an ultrasound to find the vein. It can also help the physician find bigger veins in the neck, chest walls, and groin. “Ultrasound may be also used to guide a needle into a cavity that needs to be drained or a mass that needs to be biopsied, where a small bit of tissue is removed for analysis” (MedicineNet). Ultrasound technology is used for a lot of reasons. It has helped many people in different ways. It a safe technology that is used in the medical field. For many years, technology has increased. Today, ultrasound technology has changed. The machines are now smaller and portable. It can be used at a person’s bedside and it is useful to a person who can not get up from bed and needs a physician to come to their house.

Inesaira Rodriguez

7 Works Cited

Denir, Andre. History of Ultrasound. Genesis. 24 Oct. 2009 < Ultrasound.MedicineNet. 24 Oct. 2009.

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Inesaira Rodriguez


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