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What is Medical Ultrasound?

Medical ultrasound falls into two main categories: diagnostic and therapeutic.

Diagnostic Ultrasound Diagnostic ultrasound is a non-invasive technique used to produce images of the inside of the body. Ultrasound probes, called transducers, emit sound waves at high frequencies, which reflect off internal structures to create images. Most probes are placed on the skin, but they can also be inserted into the body for better image quality. This method helps visualize internal organs and tissues, aiding in the diagnosis of various conditions.

Therapeutic Ultrasound Therapeutic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to interact with tissues in the body for modification or destruction without producing images. It can move or push tissue, heat tissue, dissolve clots, or deliver drugs to specific sites. This method is particularly useful for non-invasive treatments, such as targeting and destroying tumors, without the need for surgery, thus leaving no scars or wounds.

How Does Ultrasound Work?


Ultrasound waves are produced by a transducer made of piezoelectric materials, which emit and detect sound waves. These waves travel into the body and reflect back from tissue boundaries. The reflected waves are converted into electrical signals that create images of the internal structures. Gel is applied to the skin during the procedure to prevent air pockets that can block the sound waves.

Uses of Ultrasound
  • Diagnostic Applications: Ultrasound can image internal organs, the heart, blood vessels, eyes, thyroid, brain, chest, abdomen, skin, and muscles. It's commonly used during pregnancy to monitor fetal development.

  • Functional Applications: Techniques like Doppler ultrasound measure and visualize blood flow and tissue stiffness, helping diagnose conditions like blocked arteries or liver fibrosis.

  • Interventional Imaging: Ultrasound guides procedures such as needle biopsies and catheter placements, providing real-time images to improve accuracy and safety.​

Benefits of Ultrasound
  • Non-Invasive: No incisions or cuts are required, reducing recovery time and risk of infection.

  • Real-Time Imaging: Provides immediate images for accurate diagnosis and guidance during procedures.

  • Versatility: Can be used for a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic applications, from monitoring pregnancy to treating tumors.

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