Nearly everyone has heard of the term “ultrasound imaging” at some point. Diagnostic ultrasound is among the most prevalent ways to test in the medical field for a number of reasons. Ultrasound scanning is one of the most popular tests that most medical professional suggests for the diagnosis of various issues. But while most people know what an ultrasound exam is, they don’t know much about how it works.
What is an ultrasound machine? How does it work? In this article, we’ll talk about the basic fundamentals of ultrasound technology, how it functions, and the various types of ultrasound imaging devices in this article.
What is Ultrasound Machine?
Ultrasound Machine is a type of medical imaging setup that utilizes sound waves on the organs inside the body to test, diagnose, or treat them. The sound waves travel through the body and are turned into an ultrasound image that shows the condition and boundaries of fluid, soft tissue, and organs inside the body. This helps doctors figure out what’s wrong and decide how to treat it. Using medical ultrasound imaging, doctors can find out what’s wrong with organs inside the body and what’s causing inflammation or pain. Not just that, but ultrasound is the most widely accepted way to check on the development of a fetus inside the body of a pregnant woman.
Ultrasound is considered to be a safe medical procedure because it doesn’t use radiation and has been around for more than 60 years. It is one of the most common imaging tests that doctors order because it is flexible, portable, relatively cheap, doesn’t hurt the patient, and can give real-time information about the area of concern.
Parts of the Ultrasound Machine
The previous few decades have seen tremendous development in ultrasound scanning. Due to technological advancements, the equipment is now smaller and more portable, and the produced imagery is sharper, more precise, and more vibrant than ever before. In general, an ultrasound machine has the following parts:
The sound waves are transmitted and received by the transducer. If you have seen an ultrasound machine, you will recognize the transducer as the tiny probe the technician holds. In early technologies, separate units were used to transmit and receive these waves.
Central Processing Unit or CPU
The CPU is the nerve center of the ultrasound machine. It controls the flow of information between the transducer and the display, translating the electrical signals into an on-screen image.
During ultrasound scans, keyboards are used to type in information about the patient. Each image can be saved correctly in the patient’s file by entering information about the patient. Maintaining accurate patient data in any digital format is easier when ultrasounds and data about the patient are stored together.
The ultrasound technician can achieve a good screen view by adjusting the settings using the control knobs. The ability to zoom in and out of the picture is another feature.
The picture captured by the transducer is displayed on the screen or monitor. The doctor can examine the photograph and draw conclusions. Further, this facilitates the reach of the targeted part for ultrasonic imaging.
The printer facilitates the patient to keep a physical record of their diagnosis. Another physician can review the hard copy of the ultrasound, or it can be filed away for future reference. Parents can also get a hard copy of their baby’s photo as a keepsake.
Ultrasound Machine Working Principle
The theory of operation for ultrasound machines and SONAR systems, which are employed in the military and navy, is essentially the same. Bats cannot rely on their vision and employ this idea to hunt. So, how exactly does an ultrasound machine function? Now, we are going to take a look at the inner workings of a conventional ultrasound device.
How Does the Machine actually Work?
A transducer can both emit ultrasonic waves and detect the ultrasound echoes that are reflected in it. Ultrasound transducers’ active elements are often made of piezoelectrics, which are a kind of ceramic crystal. When subjected to an electric field, these materials generate sound waves; when struck by a sound wave, they generate an electric field. The transducer is the component of an ultrasound scanner responsible for projecting an intense beam of sound waves into the patient.
Tissue boundaries in the beam’s passage reflect the sound waves to the transducer (e.g., the boundary between the fluid and soft tissue or tissue and bone). These echoes cause the transducer to produce electrical impulses, which are then relayed to the ultrasound scanner. The scanner figures out how far away the tissue boundary is by using the speed of sound and the time it takes for each echo to return. After measuring these distances, two-dimensional pictures of internal organs and tissues can be created.
How Does the Ultrasound Procedure Work?
Ultrasound imaging is a straightforward method. The patient is lying on an exam table, typically with their head facing the ceiling. The sonographer will alter the positioning of the patient and the exam table to best accommodate the ultrasound being performed. After getting the patient in the correct posture, the sonographer will apply a water-based gel to the area that has to be imaged. Less air is present between the transducer and the skin, thus increasing the probability that the returned sound waves will produce a crisp image.
After putting some gel on the area, the sonographer will move the ultrasonic probe around it. There may be a slight sensation of pressure from the ultrasound probe on the patient.
Types of Ultrasound Machines
In its early stages, ultrasound technology could only make blurry, two-dimensional pictures of the target area. However, with the help of modern technology, we can now get fascinating results. There are many kinds of modern ultrasound machines, but they can be put into two main categories:
3D Ultrasound Machine
The movement of the probe in a 3D ultrasound imaging machine creates multiple 2D photographs of the target area. Ultrasound transducers take pictures, and the machine’s software layers them on top of each other to create a 3D model of the tissue.
In the early stages of both benign tumors and malignancy, 3D ultrasound imaging is frequently used. Breast, colon, prostate, and rectum screenings are routinely performed. In fetal development research, 3D imaging can help identify problems such as limb length discrepancies. It is sensitive enough to measure fetal blood flow.
Doppler effect theory revolves around sound waves and the echoes they produce when they bounce off of moving objects. Doppler ultrasound is the name given to ultrasound that uses this theory. The use of Doppler ultrasound is often limited to tracking moving objects. Thus, it is used to analyze cardiovascular processes and vascular networks.
Advantages Of Ultrasound Machine
Here are a few ways in which ultrasonography examinations help:
- Ultrasound is one of the few non-invasive medical techniques. No needles are used, and no probes are inserted into the patient’s body. There are no insertions or internal processes involved in this procedure.
- Medical ultrasound imaging does not cause any discomfort.
- Radiation is a problem with several diagnostic techniques. Ultrasound energy, on the other hand, is safe from the effects of ionizing radiation. It uses radiation-free sound waves.
- This method does not break the bank and can be found anywhere.
- Imaging with ultrasound helps observe soft tissues. In X-rays, these tissues do not appear. It is one of the few ways to assess circulation without invasive procedures.
- Pregnancy is a delicate situation where ultrasound can be helpful, but precautions must be taken to avoid harming the fetus.
- Imaging with ultrasound can be done in real-time. Ultrasound is helpful for guided needle biopsies and fluid aspiration due to its real-time visuals.
Limitations of the Ultrasound Machine
There are numerous worries concerning ultrasound safety. There have been instances of low birthweight babies born to moms who had many ultrasound examinations during pregnancy, raising the question, Although an excellent instrument, ultrasound has certain drawbacks. Because sound waves do not propagate well through air or bone, ultrasonography is ineffective at imaging body parts like the brain and lungs that contain gas or are covered by bone. Additionally, items may be invisible to ultrasound deep inside the human body. Your doctor could request additional imaging tests, like X-rays or CT or MRI scans, to see these areas. . Using ultrasound, you can mostly do one of two things:
- Increase in temperature as a result of ultrasonic absorption by tissues or fluids.
- The term “cavitation” refers to the bubbles formed when ultrasound generates enough local heat to force gases out of the solution.
However, ultrasound has been studied extensively in humans and animals, and no adverse effects have been found. However, ultrasonography should still be used sparingly (i.e., better to be cautious).
Applications of Ultrasound
Typical applications of ultrasound include diagnosis, treatment, and guidance during operations like biopsies.
- It can evaluate several internal organs, including the testicles, ovaries, thyroid gland, liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
- It can aid in diagnosing abnormalities with joints, blood vessels, tendons, and soft tissues like muscles. It is applied to research carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, and other conditions.
- Blood flow or blood pressure can be measured with a doppler ultrasonography. It can identify any blockages and the rate of blood flow.
- Doppler ultrasound is one example, as is an echocardiogram (ECG). It can produce pictures of the cardiovascular system and take precise measurements of blood flow and cardiac tissue movement.
- A Doppler ultrasonography can evaluate the health and condition of the cardiac valves, any heart anomalies, valvular regurgitation, or blood spilling from the valves, and the heart’s blood pumping efficiency.
It may also be employed for:
- Examining the blood vessel walls.
- Checking for an aneurysm or DVT.
- Checking fetal heart and heartbeat examination
- Assessing for plaque accumulation and clots
- Checking artery blockages or constriction
- A carotid duplex is a type of carotid ultrasound in which a Doppler ultrasound may be used. The carotid arteries’ blood-cell transport process would then be revealed.
Using ultrasound in anesthesia:
- Anesthetists frequently utilize ultrasound to direct a needle filled with anesthetic fluid close to nerves.
- An ultrasound can be performed in a hospital, an outpatient clinic, or a doctor’s office.
- The majority of scans last 20 to 60 minutes.
Precautions to Take while Using Ultrasound Machine
- Operators of ultrasound machines should limit exposure.
- The operator must not touch the applicator’s face when the gadget is producing ultrasound.
- While an ultrasound therapy device is running in a water bath in the direct path of the transmitted beam, the operator must not submerge any part of their body there.
- Ultrasound therapy devices should be turned on only when the applicator’s face is in good acoustic contact with the patient, and the operator is holding the applicator by its handle. Following this rule also lessens the applicator’s chance of sustaining thermal damage.
- During underwater treatments, an air-gap protection device such as a dry, soft knit glove may be worn within a rubber glove to prevent any reflected or scattered ultrasound from entering the operator’s hand.
Ultrasound devices are anticipated to gain speed and storage capacity just like other forms of computer technology. Smaller transducer probes and more insertable probes may be produced to improve the quality of medical imaging of the body. There is a good chance that 3D ultrasound machines will advance and gain popularity in the next few years. The whole ultrasound device is expected to shrink, becoming a handheld model (e.g., paramedics, battlefield triage). Exciting new developments in this field include the integration of ultrasound imaging with heads-up/virtual reality-type displays, which will allow your doctor to “see” inside of you during a minimally invasive or non-invasive operation like amniocentesis or biopsy.