Ultrasound and Medicine

Ultrasounds are not a well kept medical secret. We all know about them in regards to how we can see a developing fetus if we use an ultrasound inside the uterus. But do we really know just how they work, and all of their applications?

An ultrasound is basically a sound wave on a frequency that cannot be heard by humans. With the right equipment, it is possible to reflect what the sound passes through on a screen, rather like a bat's echolocation. Since the human body is a good conductor of sound, this allows doctors to view the inside of your body by what the sound they send through you bounces off of or passes through. Ultrasound is rather safe compared to a lot of other similar procedures. There is no chance of radiation sickness, and no invasive surgery. It does however have some side effects, most prominently the heating of tissue. It can also at higher powers warp tissue due to the force of the sound wave, but if you're using ultrasounds for its most common purpose, diagnostics, that shouldn't be a problem. All in all, ultrasounds are quite safe.

Aside from using ultrasounds for pregnancy, they can be a useful diagnostic tool. Though it does not have the raw power of an X-ray for instance, a transvaginal ultrasound can detect any abnormalities in the pelvic region, such as uterine cancer. Even aside from its diagnostic purposes, ultrasound can be used for other tasks, such as cleaning teeth in dental hygiene, treating certain kinds of cataracts, and can be used for lithotripsy. Lithotripsy is a process where kidney stones or similar obstructions are blasted by ultrasonic waves until it breaks into pieces that can easily be passed through the body. Though ultrasound has a wide arrange of benefits, it's impossible to rely on it for everything. The images it gets back are simply not as clear as they need to be to completely replace X-rays, although ultrasounds are the safer alternative. Ultrasounds are an excellent supplemental diagnostic tool.

Ultrasounds are very useful in many different areas of medical science, from diagnostics to biomedicine. Though their applications are limited--the same could be said of any medical tool. It has an above average use in terms of both possible applications and how well it performs.