Ultrasound imaging technology is widely used in healthcare to visualize the inside of a patient’s body. The standard ultrasound machine sends sound waves through the patient’s body, and an image is produced based on how much time it takes for the sound wave to bounce back. Imaging specialists use ultrasound machines for many different applications, including vascular studies, musculoskeletal imaging, prostate examination, and cardiac imaging. These devices are often used as supporting equipment in medical procedures by general practitioners and vascular specialists.
What is an Ultrasound Machine?
An ultrasound machine uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the inside of the human body. These machines use a type of imaging called sonography, which is based on the speed of sound. Diagnostic ultrasound is most often performed with a handheld device called a transducer that’s covered in a crystal jelly or conducting gel. The transducer is pressed against the patient’s body and a computer produces an image based on the speed of sound in the tissues. The images are often colour-coded based on how quickly the sound passes through different tissues. The ultrasound machine sends sound waves through the patient’s body, and an image is produced based on how much time it takes for the sound wave to bounce back. For example, sound travels more quickly through muscle than it does through fat, so areas of muscle appear brighter. The brightness of a certain area indicates how quickly the sound wave passed through it, so the brightness of each colour is used to create an image of what’s going on inside the patient’s body.
Why Are Ultrasound Machines Used in Healthcare?
Ultrasound machines are used to diagnose and monitor a wide range of medical conditions. Vascular studies and musculoskeletal imaging allow the experts to look at blood vessels and soft tissues like muscles and ligaments. Prostate examinations allow experts to examine the prostate gland in men. Cardiac imaging is used to look at the heart. Diagnosing a patient’s medical condition is only one application of ultrasound machines. These machines are also used to monitor a patient’s health and progress over time.
Vascular Studies with Ultrasound Machines
Vascular studies are used to look at blood vessels and organs that are deep within the body. The experts will often perform these studies to assess a patient who has a risk of stroke or heart attack. Ultrasound machines are often used in vascular studies because they’re safe and non-invasive. In vascular studies, the experts will often place a transducer over an area that’s at risk for a blood clot. The transducer will then emit sound waves that travel through the skin, blood vessels, and organs until they hit the wall of the blood vessels. The sound waves bounce back and create a colourful image of the inside of the blood vessels and organs. The intensity of each colour in the image indicates the speed of the sound waves, so the experts can see if a blood clot is forming.
Musculoskeletal Imaging with Ultrasound Machines
Musculoskeletal imaging is used to look at soft tissues like ligaments, muscles, and tendons. This type of imaging is often used to diagnose joint and spine problems and injuries. Ultrasound machines are often used in musculoskeletal imaging because they can provide a quick and easy image of soft tissues without causing pain. In musculoskeletal imaging, the experts will place a transducer over the patient’s skin and select an area of interest to image. The transducer will then emit sound waves that travel through the skin and soft tissues until they hit the bones. The sound waves bounce back and create an image of the soft tissues around the bones. The experts can use the image to detect injuries and abnormalities that may not be visible to the naked eye.
Prostate Examination with Ultrasound Machines
A prostate examination is used to look for signs of disease in the prostate gland, which is located at the base of the bladder in men. A prostate exam is often part of the initial screening for prostate cancer. Ultrasound machines are often used in prostate examinations because they don’t require any insertion into the patient’s body and provide high-quality images of the prostate gland. In a prostate examination, the experts will place an ultrasound transducer over the patient’s abdomen, press a button to mix the gel, and position the machine to look at the prostate gland. The machine will emit high-frequency sound waves that travel through the patient’s skin, fat, prostate gland, and abdomen until they hit the abdominal wall. The sound waves bounce back and create a colourful image of the prostate gland. The experts can then use the image to look for signs of disease, such as growths or lesions in the prostate gland. They may also use the image to measure the size of the prostate gland and detect abnormalities that may indicate disease. A prostate exam isn’t painful, and patients can usually go about their day as normal after the procedure.
Cardiac Imaging with Ultrasound Machines
Cardiac imaging is used to look at the heart and detect abnormalities in the heart’s structure or function. Cardiac abnormalities can cause heart attacks and strokes, which are some of the leading causes of death worldwide. Ultrasound machines are often used in cardiac imaging to look at the heart’s blood flow. In cardiac imaging, the experts will place a transducer over an artery on the patient’s arm or place another transducer over the patient’s leg. The machine will then emit sound waves that travel through the patient’s blood vessels and heart until they hit the walls of the vessels. The sound waves bounce back and create an image of the blood flow to the heart. Cardiac imaging can detect signs of disease in the heart before they cause pain or other symptoms.