Medical Uses Of Ultrasound Biology Essay


Ultrasound can be used in many different fields. Today we only talk about the usage in medical circle.

Definition: Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to look at the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels in real-time and 3D.

Tools and how it works: An ultrasound scanner consists of two parts: the transducer and the data processing unit. In an ultrasound examination, a transducer both sends the sound waves and records the echoing waves. Therapeutic ultrasound is in the frequency range of about 0.8-3.0 MHz. When the transducer is pressed against the skin, it directs small pulses of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce off of internal organs, fluids and tissues, the sensitive microphone in the transducer records tiny changes in the sound's pitch and direction. These signature waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor.

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In some ultrasound studies, the transducer is attached to a probe and inserted into a natural opening in the body.

These exams include:

Transesophageal echocardiogram. The transducer is inserted into the esophagus to obtain images of the heart.

Transrectal ultrasound. The transducer is inserted into a man's rectum to view the prostate.

Transvaginal ultrasound. The transducer is inserted into a woman's vagina to view the uterus and ovaries.

Preparation requirements:

For most ultrasound exams, the patient is Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes for the ultrasound examination, positioned lying face-up on an examination table that can be tilted or moved. A clear water-based gel is applied to the area of the body being studied to help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin. The sonographer (ultrasound technologist) or radiologist then presses the transducer firmly against the skin in various locations, sweeping over the area of interest or angling the sound beam from a farther location to better see an area of concern. When the examination is complete, the patient may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed. However, the sonographer or radiologist is often able to review the ultrasound images in real-time as they are acquired and the patient can be released immediately.

A typical ultrasound treatment will take from 3-5 minutes depending on the size of the area being treated. In cases where scar tissue breakdown is the goal, this treatment time can be much longer.

Most ultrasound procedures do not require advance preparation.

The exceptions are listed below:

Abdominal Ultrasound and Abdominal Ultrasound with Doppler

(Liver, Spleen, Gallbladder, Kidneys, Pancreas, Abdominal Aorta, Biliary System)

(exam time: 30 min; visit time about 1 1/2 hours)

Adults: Do not eat or drink 8 hours before exam.

Children: Do not eat or drink 4 hours before study or skip 1 meal.

Take medications with a small sip of water.

If you are diabetic, please take your insulin.

Pelvic Ultrasound

(Uterus, Ovaries, Fallopian Tubes, Urinary Bladder)

(exam time: 30 min; visit time about 1 1/2 hours)

Our protocol is to include transvaginal ultrasound for females.

Eat normally.

One hour before your exam, drink 32 oz. of water.

Do not empty your bladder before your exam.

Bladder Ultrasound

For both male and female patients, one hour before your exam, drink 32 oz. of water.


Four different modes of ultrasound are used in medical imaging:

A-mode: This method is used to measure distances within the body and the size of internal organs.

B-mode: scans a plane through the body that can be viewed as a two-dimensional image on screen.

M-Mode: A rapid sequence of B-mode scans whose images follow each other in sequence on screen enables doctors to see and measure range of motion, as the organ boundaries that produce reflections move relative to the probe

Doppler mode: accurately measuring velocities of moving material, such as blood in arteries and veins. This technique is used extensively to investigate valve defects, arteriosclerosis, and hypertension, particularly in the heart, but also in the abdominal aorta and the portal vein of the liver.

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General usage: Health care professionals use them to view the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, liver and other organs. In medicine, ultrasound is used to detect changes in appearance of organs, tissues, and vessels or detect abnormal masses, such as tumors.

Ultrasound is also used to:

Guide procedures such as needle biopsies, in which needles are used to extract sample cells from an abnormal area for laboratory testing.


Unlike x-rays, ultrasound does not involve exposure to radiation. Diagnostic ultrasound is considered to be a low-risk procedure.

Ultrasound is painless, safe and less expensive than CT(computed tomography) or MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging)


Ultrasound imaging does not use any ionizing radiation.

Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.

Ultrasound is the preferred imaging modality for the diagnosis and monitoring of pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Ultrasound provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and needle aspiration.


There may be some association between ultrasound and low birth weight. However, routine use of ultrasound in pregnancy should be discouraged."

There is no health risks associated with ultrasound, although no one knows for sure what the possible long-term effects may be for you or your child. Here is some of the problems with a non-qualified person performing ultrasound procedures:

Experts say no significant health risks to a baby who has undergone ultrasound at the low levels approved for obstetrics use have been shown. According to the Food and Drug Administration, which must approve ultrasound devices before they are sold in the United States, the only consistent finding has been a slight increase in left-handedness among boys.

But according to the American College of Radiology, which offers guidelines on sonography, laboratory studies have shown that some levels of ultrasound can produce physical effects in tissue, such as vibrations and a rise in temperature, especially when used for a prolonged period of time.

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Possible results:

Relevant health issue:

1 Pasko Rakic at Yale Medical School in New Haven, Connecticut, US, who carried out the research with colleagues, suggested that Exposure to ultrasound while pregnant may affect brain development in the fetus, in mice. They stress that the imaging technique has overwhelming benefits and pregnant women should not skip essential appointments.

2 An experimental technique that destroys cancer cells without drugs, surgery or radiation is showing promise in the lab. British company Gendel says that it has used blasts of ultrasound to destroy tumour cells in mice.Once "sensitised" outside the body with an electric field, the membranes of the red blood cells become permeable, in a process known as electroporation, and can be filled with a drug before they are returned to the patient. When ultrasound is beamed at the site where the drug is needed, the sensitised cells burst open, spilling the drug in the right place

3 Focused pulses of ultrasound can eradicate prostate cancer as effectively as cutting the tumour out with surgery, but with far fewer side effects. This conclusion comes from the most comprehensive study of the technique to date, carried out by Jean-Yves Chapelon, of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, and colleagues They found that a few seconds of concentrated ultrasound could obliterate a tumour, but without having to cut into the body. In contrast, surgery caused much more collateral damage.

4 A team of chemical engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed the technique using rats, but it will soon be tested on volunteers in clinical trials. Nicotine and hormone replacement therapy can already be administered using skin patches, but most drug molecules are too big to penetrate the outermost skin layer, known as the stratum corneum. This consists of dead skin cells surrounded by double layers of fat cells that only let the smallest molecules pass.

5 Simple ultrasound scans could be equally good at predicting a woman's chance of IVF conception success as the expensive, invasive and time-consuming hormone tests currently used. Janet Kwee at the Free University in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and colleagues, investigated whether ultrasound scans provide a better alternative to this hormone test. A healthy woman might have anywhere from two to 20 follicles that mature each month, but only one reaches the final stages of development and releases an egg during ovulation.

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