Unlike x-rays that use radiation to produce a picture from within the body, ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to look at organs and structures inside the body.
What is an Ultrasound?
Medical professionals use them to examine your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, liver, and other organs, as well as look at superficial wounds, torn ligaments, broken bones, and has tremendous orthopedic uses. Of course, during pregnancy, doctors use ultrasound machines to examine the growing child.
Transducers are waived over the part of your body that is to be examined, and then sends out sound waves, which bounce off the tissues inside your body. The transducer captures the returning waves, and images are created on a monitor and can be stored digitally. They can also be printed on black and white or color film.
3D and 4D Ultrasound Technology
One of the most exciting areas of advancement has been in video and 3D and 4D imaging. X-rays and, until recently, ultrasounds, came in 2D black and white pictures. The monitors and prints were limited in circumspect viewing to help ascertain to a greater degree what issue may exist at the targeted part of the interior body. While there was still great benefit with these images, their limitations led to advanced research that gave way to 3D multiplanar images, as well as 3D Doppler. The sound waves are sent at different angles to return a fuller picture. 4D ultrasound technology allows for live motion viewing of your organ or baby’s heartbeat. It is truly exciting and assists the medical professional in identifying the status of the injury or child.
User-friendly Ultrasound Machines
These machines have become more comfortable to use while still providing the necessary bells and whistles one might need for the growing number of potential applications ultrasound machines can satisfy. Additionally, because many medical environments are limited in space, and patient positioning can be at times awkward as necessitated by their injury or diagnostic need, ergonomics have become an essential feature in the design of these machines, whether they be the traditional cart-based system, or the new, exciting portable ultrasound units, such as those produced by GE and Sonosite.
Medical Printer Advancements
Printing speed, picture quality, and computer interfacing are just some of the areas where medical printers are advancing at a rapid rate.
Black and white or color images on waterproof and smudge-proof media are now available and standard with printers from leading manufacturer Sony. Additionally, 430 dpi is approved, and pictures can be on media that will host 1-4 images on a non-curving sheet.
Additionally, printers can print directly to media, or interface with a computer to digitally store, or even email, pictures in near-real-time.
Stable and familiar modes of waving a transducer have been employed for three decades. Still, now, with changing and additional applications, plus 3D and 4D technological advances, the ultrasound transducer is undergoing significant changes as well. High frequency and particular purpose arrays, as well as miniaturization, continue evolving quickly to meet the demands of this growing science. New types of pulses are being employed for specific applications, whether it is to look at tissue or a fetus.
These technologies are separate yet unified in their goal of providing broader diagnostic viewing in as many internal applications as possible. Long gone are the days when ultrasound was used primarily for viewing a fetus. Breast and colon cancer, gynecological diagnostics, tissues, broken bones, orthopedics, cardiology, and more are common uses for this technology.
Now, the latest in ultrasounds are the exciting, lightweight, and easy to operate portable ultrasound machine. GE and Sonosite are the kings when it comes to this miniaturized technology that can be taken almost anywhere in the world, and is no longer dependent on an external power source. Battery technology improvements in the last decade have provided smaller batteries that can run extended periods, making portable ultrasound an essential diagnostic tool in developing countries. Additionally, these small units are perfect for sports medicine, as injured players can be quickly examined right at the location of their injury.