Is an Ultrasound Better Than an X-rayFor years, ultrasound has been known as the technology that gives expecting parents pictures of their little baby as it develops in the womb. But the ultrasound machine is more than a very expensive camera. As technology improves, so do the uses of ultrasound, making it one of the more versatile and essential medical diagnostic technologies available today.

Ultrasound is just that – an ultra sound of sound waves sent harmlessly into one’s body. The wave bounce back after reaching the highlighted target of one’s internal organ, joint, heart, cervix, etc, and provides a 2-D picture to help the medical professional ascertain if there is an injury or health problem. While 2-D dominated the past, new technology provides for 3-D viewing, as well as 4-D viewing, which is video. A color component is available, also, to help distinguish between certain internal features.

When injured, such as breaking a bone, people historically have gone for an x-ray. Radiation is sent coursing through the body over an area larger than the affected area, spewing these toxic rays into the patient’s body. While x-rays have their place in medicine, ultrasound machines can provide many of the same images for diagnostic purposes in a non-invasive, non-toxic manner. There are occasionally patients who have physical conditions where x-rays could do more damage than not, and ultrasound allows the medical professional to get the internal glimpse they need without creating further health problems. In fact, women in particular are concerned about female reproduction and quality care, so having an ultrasound aimed at the baby will not jeopardize its health.

Your typical Ultrasound machine or scanner will consist of a computer, a display screen and a transducer probe that is used to scan the body. The transducer is the small gadget that the Ultrasound technician will hold in his or her hand and that is attached to the scanner. The area the medical professional wants to view will be covered in a special gel. Then, the transducer will be drawn across it and return as a picture to be seen on a medical monitor in real time, and can now be recorded and added to a patient’s digital medical file.

In the past, one had to go to a hospital, typically, or a medical office like an OB/Gyn, to have ultrasound performed on them. Not so anymore. Now, portable ultrasound machines can be taken to remote places all over the world for medical professionals to use for diagnostic purses. The development of long-lasting batteries has helped make this possible, and, combined with miniaturized technology, portable ultrasound machines are often only slightly bigger than a laptop.

Ultrasound images are used to examine the body in order to detect problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and soft tissue. They are able to demonstrate movement, function and anatomy, and will allow radiologists to analyze a variety of conditions and assess damage after an injury or illness. While an x-ray can take only a still picture, as mentioned above, ultrasound technology can show movement, increasing the doctor’s ability to make the correct assessment.

Ultrasound can detect possible heart problems before something worse occurs, be used in athletics to determine injury to a joint, by obstetrics to see the health of a child and check the status of a woman’s reproductive health. The uses continue to broaden as technology improves. To learn more about the advancement in technology of ultrasound machines go to Imaging Associates.

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