New Advancements in Ultrasound
Medical ultrasound is a Medical Imaging technique. It is also known as diagnostic sonography or ultrasonography. In this technique, high-frequency sound waves are used to visualize soft tissues such as internal organs. According to USFDA, this modality generates images showing actual movement of the tissues or blood flow. The machine used for this technique can produce ultrasonic sound waves which can show different layers of body tissue. This machine displays the image on a screen. Various internal structures like vessels, tendons, muscles, joints, and internal organs can be seen by this technique.
The frequencies of sound waves used in Ultrasound are higher than those that are audible to human ears. Images of a human foetus can be created by Obstetric ultrasound technique during pregnancy. Sonographic instruments can form many different types of images, which can display movement of blood and tissue, availability of specific molecules, the rigidness of tissue, or the structure of region in 3 dimensions.
With help of this technique, real time images can be seen which is opposite to single image like X-ray. Hence we can get images of heart beating, the arteries pulsating and the bowel’s peristalsis. Doppler ultrasound method is used for the diagnosis of various conditions like blood clots, defective heart valves or blocked arteries.
Latest developments in ultrasound
Ultrasound is a powerful diagnostic technology available to doctors, engineers and scientists today. Because of safety and non-invasive nature, ultrasonic imaging is very widely accepted and used and is undergoing very rapid development. This development is directly related to the parallel advancements in electronics, computing, and transducer technology along with complex signal processing techniques.
Many changes have been implemented in image quality. Researchers have put more emphasis on mobility and ease of access.
Some companies have developed wireless transducers. They have small and high quality screens. Earlier ultrasound was able to create 2D images. Nowadays, engineers have developed 3D ultrasound producing non-moving 3D images. This is possible by beaming sound waves at an angle to the tissue. 4D ultrasound can produce 3D images in real time.
Advances for contrast-enhanced imaging, volume imaging and elastography are recent technological trends in ultrasound. With the help of this advancement in ultrasound, doctors study perfusion and blood circulation in addition to real-time imaging of internal anatomy. They can see the tumors in detail helping to distinguish between malignant and benign tumors
One new development is contrast-enhanced ultrasound which can improve the sensitivity for tumor detection. In this technique, chemicals are used to enhance contrast. They are known as contrast agents.
There are two recently released products Sonosite’s Nanomaxx and GE Healthcare’s Venue 40 systems. Each weighs about 6 pounds. Both are tablet-style devices and can be hand held. They can be mounted on a cart and provide simple user-interfaces. They are in compact forms with capabilities like color power Doppler. Many latest image-enhancing technologies like speckle reduction, auto image optimization algorithms and color flow mapping have been equipped in them.
Sonoelastography is the other new development in which a typical ultrasound machine is used for measuring stiffness of tissue. By using this, physicians are able to see stiffer and softer areas of the tissue. Doctors can judge liver fibrosis and monitor thyroid nodules and lymph nodes. They can also detect prostate cancer. All these activities cannot be done with conventional ultrasound.
Also, advancements in software have enabled to fuse images acquired using other modalities like computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) with real-time ultrasound Several vendors also have introduced software that automate tasks and anatomical measurements.
Advancement is also seen in volumetric ultrasound. Today, ultrasound is also used to acquire volumes which was earlier not possible. Previously, images from a single plane were possible by ultrasound; but now, transducers can take images in multiple planes. Hence real time volume of tissue can be captured. Simultaneous acquisition of the transverse and sagittal dimensions is a good example of this. Doctors can perform routine procedures with higher accuracy. They can also describe the character of various tissues much better than earlier. Hence this area of ultrasound has a lot of scope to grow.
Cardiac ultrasound, has also seen some advancements in recent years. Premium all touchscreen ultrasound system was launched for the first time with Artificial intelligence to speed up the procedure. Cardiac echo has become simple and more reproducible and improved image quality approaching to that of computed tomography (CT) scans has been done.