Ultrasound imaging is the process of utilizing sounds waves to form images of soft tissues and organs beneath the skin. It has multiple applications, ranging from fetal imaging to cancer diagnostics.
Here’s a brief overview of the different applications of an ultrasound. It should helppaint a clearer picture of why ultrasound technology is an indispensable tool in the medical field.
Ultrasounds are used to visualize and monitor the growth of a fetus, or fetuses, throughout pregnancy.
They can detect placental issues and other irregularities in an infant’s growth and determine the likelihood of birth defects.
Fetal imaging can inform expecting mothers of their anticipated due dates, the number of children they’re carrying, and the baby’s gender and size.
Pregnancy ultrasounds aren’t just for monitoring the baby—they’re also for monitoring soon-to-be mothers. They’re used to view the ovaries and uterus during pregnancy and check for any potential complications.
Ultrasounds are useful in the detection of certain diseases, disorders, and tumors. They can detect abnormalities in the heart, blood vessels, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, eyes, thyroid, and more. They’re also able to diagnose unusual growths, including ones that are cancerous.
Other organs, such as the bowels, are harder to study through the use of diagnostic imaging. The ultrasound’s beams transmit poorly through dense bones and air or gas-filled systems, making it difficult to extract high-quality images.
Some claim that ultrasound technology can help fight COVID-19 by detecting early symptoms of the virus.
Ultrasounds can be used to guide and monitor certain procedures—namely lymph node, breast, and liver biopsies.
The purpose of ultrasound-guided needle biopsies is to remove tissue samples for laboratory testing, which can reveal abnormalities such as infection, inflammation, or malignancy.
Ultrasound scanners help guide needles to the site of biopsy and safely remove the necessary tissue samples.
One of the different applications of an ultrasound includes therapy. Physiotherapeutic ultrasound and lithotripsy are two types of therapeutic imaging techniques that have been long-approved for clinical use.
Other therapeutic procedures that are beginning to transition into clinical use include HIFU, targeted ultrasound drug delivery, trans-dermal ultrasound drug delivery, ultrasound hemostasis, cancer therapy, and more.
Ultrasound therapy focuses on treating musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries, along with certain types of chronic pain. The ultrasound waves pass through affected tissue, increasing blood flow, reducing swelling and edema, and/or massaging muscle tendons and ligaments. This enhances the cell-repair process and helps injuries to heal.
Medical experts have long argued over therapeutic ultrasound’s effectiveness, with some claiming its mere placebo.