Uses of Diagnostic Ultrasound
The development of ultrasound for use in medical diagnosis has been a great help in many areas of medicine. It has replaced the more harmful x-ray in many applications and is safe and simple to use.
Ultrasound when used for diagnosis, is simply sound pressure that is sent cyclically through the body. The sound has a frequency above that of human hearing and reflects back an image of what is inside. This is an extremely useful method and is widely used in many fields of medicine.
Of course the most well known form of diagnostic ultrasound is done to view the fetus in the mother's womb. This is done routinely during every pregnancy between weeks 18 and 20. It is especially important for those going through an at risk pregnancy in which case the ultrasounds may be performed more frequently.
Some of the things the doctor does is take measurements of the fetus to verify the due date and make sure growth is normal. Location of the placenta is also noted as well as the amount of amniotic fluid and looking at the heart and other organs. If the fetus is old enough, the sonographer can also inform the parents (if they want to know) of their child's sex.
More important than these, however, are the sonographer's opportunity to look out for any abnormalities in the baby, as well as any cysts or other problems the mother might be having. This is one of the important ways that birth defects can sometimes be discovered before birth. The reason this is so important is that with early detection, often other tests can be run to determine the severity of the condition, and in some instances, procedures can be done to improve the baby's condition even before it is born (as in hydrocephalus and draining of some fluid before birth to prevent pressure on the brain etc.)
So we see that diagnostic ultrasound plays a very important role in obstetrics, but this is certainly not where its usefulness ends. It is also used to look at muscles, tendons and ligaments, eye scans, as well as structures like the thyroid, salivary glands and lymph nodes. Problem areas are much easier to detect and understand with the use of a diagnostic ultrasound.
Vascular studies also utilize ultrasound. There are special Doppler ultrasound machines that can determine the direction and velocity of blood flow which is extremely useful in examining the heart and other structures for problems and abnormalities.
Diagnostic ultrasound is a big help in giving medical professionals a better idea of what kind of problem exists, and where exactly it is located. It can be used simultaneously during non-invasive procedures to help guide in the surgeries. The use of diagnostic ultrasound is a very valuable asset in the medical world.
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