An ultrasound is the process wherein technology is used to create images of the inside of our body through sound. The sound waves that ultrasound probes, also known as transducers, emit are above the human hearing threshold (above 20 kHz). However, most current transducers operate at significantly higher frequencies (in the megahertz (MHz) range).
The majority of ultrasonic diagnostic probes are applied to the skin. However, probes may be inserted into the body via the gastrointestinal system, vagina, or blood arteries to improve image quality. Additionally, ultrasonography can be applied during surgery by inserting a sterile probe into the surgical site. This process is frequently compared to the abdominal ultrasounds carried out during pregnancy. However, it can be used by doctors for several purposes.
How does it work?
A transducer, which can both emit ultrasound waves and detect the reflected echoes, produces ultrasound waves. Most of the time, the ultrasound transducers’ active components comprise specialized ceramic crystals known as piezoelectrics. When an electric field is given to certain materials, they can create sound waves but also function in the opposite direction, creating an electric field when a sound wave strikes them. When used in an ultrasound scanner, the transducer emits sound waves into the body. Boundaries between tissues in the beam’s path reflect the sound waves to the transducer.
Electrical signals are produced when these echoes strike the transducer and are transferred to the ultrasonic scanner. The scanner determines the separation between the transducer and the tissue border by using the sound speed and the time taken for each echo to return. Then, two-dimensional pictures of the tissues and organs are produced using these distances.
A gel will be applied to the skin by the technician during the ultrasonic examination. As a result, air pockets that could prevent ultrasound waves from reaching the body from forming between the transducer and the skin are prevented.
Different types of ultrasounds and what they can detect
The ultrasound industry is ever-increasing, and different types of ultrasounds contribute to it. According to a study, the industry is expected to reach 9 million USD by 2026.
Ultrasound technology allows for the capture of images of numerous bodily parts. Medical professionals order ultrasound tests for various conditions involving the musculoskeletal system, circulation, urology, and obstetrics.
Three different types of ultrasounds are used for various purposes. These are:
Diagnostic Ultrasound: The body’s internal organs can be viewed with diagnostic ultrasound without invasive procedures. However, it is bad for imaging bones or other air-containing structures, such as the lungs. When the lungs are filled or partially filled with fluid, ultrasound can sometimes image the lining around the lungs and the lungs and bones (such as those in a fetus or small babies).
There are many applications for ultrasound, including imaging the heart, blood vessels, eyes, thyroid, brain, breast, abdominal organs, skin, and muscles. Pregnancy is one of the most common times that ultrasound is used to monitor the growth and development of the fetus.
Functional Ultrasound: Doppler and color Doppler ultrasound are used in functional ultrasonography to measure and visualize blood flow in the body or cardiac vessels. Additionally, it can gauge both blood flow direction and speed. Utilizing color-coded maps is a process known as color Doppler imaging.
Doppler ultrasound is frequently employed to evaluate whether plaque buildup inside the carotid arteries obstructs blood flow to the brain. Another crucial technique for visualizing medical procedures in the body is ultrasound. For instance, ultrasound-guided needle biopsy enables medical professionals to see the location of a needle as it is being guided to a chosen target, such as a breast mass or tumor.
Additionally, real-time imaging of the catheter tip as it is inserted into a blood vessel and moved along its length is done using ultrasound technology. Pictures of the inside of the body in real-time are used to direct the surgeon during minimally invasive surgery.
Therapeutic Ultrasound: High amounts of acoustic output are produced by therapeutic ultrasound, which can be directed toward certain targets with the intention of heating, ablating, or dissolving tissue. High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound is a therapeutic ultrasound that employs intense, highly targeted sound beams (HIFU).
HIFU is being researched to alter or eliminate unhealthy or abnormal tissues within the body (such as tumors) without rupturing the skin or causing harm to the surrounding tissue. The tissue to be treated is located and targeted, the treatment is guided and controlled in real-time, and the treatment’s efficacy is verified using ultrasound or MRI.
Currently, uterine fibroids, bone metastases, and, most recently, prostate tissue ablation are all conditions for which HIFU has FDA approval. Additionally, clots in blood vessels are being broken up using HIFU, and the blood-brain barrier is being briefly opened to allow for the passage of medications.
The following can also be found with ultrasound:
Infections: A patient’s blood flow can be recorded using ultrasonography. Increased blood flow may occasionally be a sign of an infection. In a pregnant woman, this would enable prompt identification of the infection that accounts for the majority of very preterm births. This test is quick, safe, and enables prompt treatment to avert premature labor and harm to the unborn child.
Cardiovascular Issues: Blood flow obstructions or narrowed blood vessels can be found using ultrasounds to detect blood vessels. These examinations, also known as musculoskeletal (MSK) ultrasounds, are frequently requested for joint problems like complaints in the ankle, elbow, knee, shoulder, or wrist.
Once more, the dynamic aspect of ultrasonography is a benefit for precise diagnosis since it allows us to assess the problematic area while it is moving and observe a patient performing the action that is causing symptoms.
Tumors and cysts: Tumors and cysts can be discovered using ultrasound to map out dense tissue. It distinguishes cysts from tumors to aid in your doctor’s diagnosis. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that is often benign. A complicated tissue region that is either benign or cancerous is called a tumor. Based on their size, location, and a variety of other sonographic features, benign and malignant tumors may typically be distinguished
Uterine Fibroids: On ultrasounds, fibroids and other disorders affecting the female reproductive system can be seen. Doctors can use an ultrasound to identify the cause of pelvic pain.
Thyroid and other conditions: Doctors occasionally use ultrasound to find growths or other aberrant thyroid activity. They can use the test to evaluate whether a thyroid nodule requires a biopsy. Kidney stones, gallstones, liver illness, and the source of stomach pain can all be investigated with ultrasound. To depict each organ’s location, texture, and blood flow, numerous still pictures are shot.
Now, the question which arises is, are there any risks involved? Since diagnostic ultrasound does not emit ionizing radiation as x-rays do, it is usually considered safe. But in certain situations and conditions, ultrasonography can have certain biological impacts on the body. The FDA mandates that diagnostic ultrasound devices operate within acceptable bounds. The FDA discourages the occasional use of ultrasound (such as for keepsake videos) and suggests that it only be used when there is a genuine medical need.
Any scan’s effectiveness frequently hinges on the technologist or physician doing the treatment and using the scanning device. At Valence Medical Imaging, we offer cutting-edge ultrasound that delivers exceptional image quality and performance and is carried out by practitioners with a high level of expertise.
Our top priority is the comfort and care of our patients. We pay close attention to every little thing to ensure you have the least stressful experience possible from the time you schedule an appointment until the time you visit and receive your findings. Visit our website today to look at the locations we are currently present in and schedule an appointment with us!