The Science Behind Ultrasound

The Science Behind Ultrasound

by Yenny (SU)

Modern ultrasound machines help doctors to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, injuries, and disorders. And while ultrasounds are on the leading edge of medicine today, the science behind them first came to light in 1794. That’s when an Italian biologist by the name of Lazzaro Spallanzani discovered that bats use soundwaves to help them navigate, even in total darkness. The original ultrasound systems were actually invented so that inspectors could detect industrial mistakes or flaws in the metal of transport ships. It was later adapted to provide crude images in Glasgow hospitals in the 1950’s. And the rest, as they say is, history.

Times have certainly changed, but the science behind modern ultrasound systems is really pretty much the same. Ultrasound machines employ high-frequency soundwaves, which are above the range of human hearing (frequencies of over 20,000 Hz). Sound waves are generated and aimed at different body parts. The image is then created based on how long it took for the signal to be reflected back. Much like bats flying in the dark, the soundwaves create a fluid digital image of underlying body structures such as organs, without having to open the patient up in order to see.

Ultrasound technology is now so sensitive they can detect the flow of blood to tissues and organs in real time. This makes ultrasound machines a valuable diagnostic and treatment tool that can help to rule out, or make a diagnosis. Ultrasounds are safe, effective, and fast. Most ultrasound tests require an hour or less to complete.

Ultrasound Uses

Ultrasound is often used to help doctors visualize abdominal structures and organs. They are also used to guide the needle in certain kinds of injection therapies.  Other ultrasound uses include:

  •        Fetal ultrasounds to assess the health of the fetus during pregnancy
  •        Bone sonometry, to determine bone fragility
  •        Ultrasound guided biopsies
  •        Assessment of gallbladder
  •        Ultrasounds can determine the health of an infant brain, spine, heart, and hips
  •        Ophthalmic ultrasound to visualize ocular structures
  •        Breast ultrasounds to help assess breast tissue health
  •        Doppler ultrasound to listen to the fetal heartbeat
  •        Doppler ultrasound to assess blood flow and other internal structures and organs
  •        Echocardiogram to view the heart and blood flow
  •        Ultrasound can also be used to examine internal organs such as the bladder, spleen, liver, thyroid, pancreas, kidneys, and other organs

Ultrasound can help diagnose issues such as blocked or narrowed blood vessels, reduced blood flow to organs, infections, tumors and cysts, congestive heart failure, damage due to a heart attack, heart valve issues, and more. All in all, the science behind how bats fly has created a versatile, lifesaving tool for clinics, hospitals, and doctor’s offices around the world.

If you, or a loved one needs a ultrasound scan, or any other imaging services, or if you would like to schedule an appointment for an ultrasound examination, please call (561) 795-5558 today, or go online to make an appointment. Our board-certified radiologists are right here waiting in the Lake Worth, Wellington, Belle Glade, or Royal Palm Beach areas.