Because of their size, for many years, ultrasound machines were almost exclusively found in hospitals. Over time ultrasound equipment became smaller and carts were developed to roll the equipment around making them more accessible in hospitals and other medical institutions. Soon smaller units were developed that were sized for doctor’s offices. This has led to a variety of uses for many different types of medical practices, expanding how ultrasound applications can benefit a number of patients.
What is Ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a diagnostic medical imaging technique used to visualize muscles, tendons, and many internal organs. The “ultra” and “sound” aspect of it is a sound frequency vastly higher than humans can detect and is, therefore, not audible. Pythagoras was the first known person to perform any studies on sound waves by using mathematics to learn about them from musical instruments. Paul Langevin was the first to use ultrasound in a technological format when he created a device to detect icebergs.
Later in the 20th century, ultrasound was used for imaging and became an alternative to poisonous x-rays. Since then it has become a widely used diagnostic tool that would take a still picture of an interior part of the human body. Most people are familiar with its most prevalent use in looking at fetus’ in a mother’s womb. Now, ultrasound technology has expanded to include both 3D and 4D motion where images can be streamed in near real-time and watched on a monitor.
Ultrasound Applications in a Doctor’s Office
For many years ultrasound was thought to be primarily used in OG/Gyn offices and hospitals. But that has since changed. Below you will find many other types of uses for ultrasound in doctor’s offices.
Ultrasound and Pregnancy
Until ultrasound technology reached maturation to be able to be used clinically with pregnant women, it was incredibly difficult for the physician or midwife to determine the health or sex of the developing baby. Now, nearly all local obstetricians have ultrasound machines in their offices that provide them a unique peek into the life of a growing child.
Ultrasound reveals much about the state of the baby and how and when it grows certain physical features and when, as well as allowing doctors to see about the overall health and development of the baby. Now, 3D technology gives a 3 dimensional view of the baby for greater diagnostic viewing, and 4 D ultrasound technology for obstetricians provides streaming motion to watch the baby move, kick, smile, or sneeze.
Cardiac Care and Ultrasound
In the past all many heart doctors had to rely on was a stethoscope and an EKG machine to monitor a patient’s heart. Ultrasound technology has revolutionized cardiac care. Echocardiograms and Transesophegeal Echo’s are used daily in medical offices and hospitals globally to take internal pictures and video of hearts, their chambers, and surrounding artery’s to see how well they are working. It is a simple, painless, and quick diagnostic test that provides the physician with a vast amount of information and allows for speedier and more appropriate care.
Vascular Care and Ultrasound
Ultrasound sonography allows doctors to look at the tiny vessels that carry blood throughout our body without having to open up the patient and provides pictures of the patient’s vast network of veins and arteries. Ultrasound machines in a doctor’s office that treats vascular issues allows for a close and quick view of blood as it flows through the body, detect blood clots, locate blockages and impediments, determine if arteries are enlarged, as well as determine the source of varicose veins. All this information allows the physician to assess and treat vascular patients more effectively. No other diagnostic tool can do this.
Muscles and Ultrasound
Because ultrasound is non-invasive it allows doctors to perform scans of their patient’s interior without having to cut them up or fire up the x-ray machine, which is a relief for those with muscle problems. Additionally, ultrasound is now being used to treat muscle problems and not just diagnose them. An ultrasound wand or transducer is waved in a circular motion over the affected muscle producing a gentle heat that stimulates blood flow back into the muscle. The blood flow can then bring the nutrients and other things the muscle needs for healing.
Abdominal Care and Ultrasound
Now your liver, spleen, gallbladder, pancreas and kidneys can be checked out without having to operate and go inside your body. This is diagnostic magic is performed by a simple ultrasound machine tucked off in the corner of your doctor’s office. Via high-frequency sound waves your physician can look deeply into these organs to create a picture that will help them determine what if anything needs to occur further in treating them.
Veterinarians and Ultrasound
It may be difficult to get a horse, cow, bull, or giraffe into a doctor’s office much less a veterinarian’s, but there isn’t a problem getting a vet to a stable, barn, farm, or home with a portable ultrasound in hand. These small units have the ability to internally peek into animals of all kinds to check for tendon problems, reproductive issues, and more. They have screens and printing tools, and some are able to connect to the internet so information can be immediately sent to a specialists if need be. This allows the veterinarian the opportunity to quickly determine what the problem with the animal is, if any, and order treatment and care for a faster recovery.
Where Doctors Purchase Ultrasound Equipment
In the past doctors went to medical conferences and trade shows where the latest equipment would be featured for them to inspect, ask questions about, learn of, and make decisions regarding. The same still holds true today. But now the internet allows for this to happen more quickly as spec sheets and details regarding use of machines, their various applications and strengths, the accessories and best uses can be all understood from afar without ever seeing one up close. However, tutorials will be provided and some manufactures send technicians to set up the equipment and train the users on it.