“The Stethoscope of the future”
Ultrasound Imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or Sonography, is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high-frequency sound waves. The reflected sound wave echoes are recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. No radiation (x-ray) is involved in ultrasound imaging.
Clinicians have often referred to ultrasound technology as the "stethoscope of the future," predicting that as the equipment shrinks in size, it will one day be as common at the bedside as that trusty tool around every physician's neck.
Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body's internal organs, including but not limited to the carotid, thyroid, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, spleen, bladder, prostate, uterus and ovaries, veins and arteries.
Obstetric ultrasound refers to the specialized use of sound waves to visualize and thus determine the condition of a pregnant woman and her embryo or fetus. Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show movement of internal tissues and organs and enable physicians to see blood flow and heart valve functions. This can help to discover a variety of heart conditions and to assess damage after a heart attack or other illness.
Whether it's to get a first glimpse of a developing baby in the womb or to visualize thyroid mass, abdominal problems, uterine fibroids, prostate abnormalities, doctors use ultrasound widely in women and men, children and seniors to gain advanced insights into the inner workings of the body. In fact, ultrasound is the most utilized form of imaging available today.
Despite today's sophisticated, high-tech systems, ultrasound remains a science built upon the simple sound wave. By beaming high-frequency sound waves into the body, physicians can translate the "echoes" that bounce off body tissues and organs into "sound you can see," colorful, visual images that provide valuable medical information. Breast pathology, arterial blockages, abnormalities in the abdomen or reproductive system, and more - all exhibit telltale signs that ultrasound can help to detect.
Safe, affordable and non-invasive, ultrasound is also portable. Very sick or fragile patients, for example, who might not be able to travel to a radiology lab without risking further injury, can essentially have the lab wheeled to them. That's an important advantage when you need to conduct an exam on a grandmother who is bedridden or an incubator-bound premature baby. For half a century now, ultrasound has been there to help families and their doctors determine what's wrong-or not-with the body and determine the best, most effective means possible to get and stay.
Remember you have a choice to make; to prevent disease instead of waiting until you have a serious health challenge. It is easier to prevent disease than it is to treat disease. For an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
Breast ultrasound is frequently used to evaluate breast abnormalities. Ultrasound allows significant freedom in obtaining images of the breast from almost any orientation. Ultrasound is excellent at imaging cysts: round, fluid-filled pockets inside the breast. Additionally, ultrasound can often quickly determine if a suspicious area is in fact a cyst or an increased density of solid tissue (dense mass) which may require additional evaluation to determine if it is malignant (cancerous).
Many critics of mammography cite the hazardous health effects of radiation. A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast that can reveal tumor growths otherwise undetectable in a physical exam. Like all x-rays, mammograms use doses of ionizing radiation to create the image.
Despite better technology and decreased doses of radiation, scientists still claim mammography is a substantial risk. About 75 percent of breast cancer could be prevented by avoiding or minimizing exposure to the ionizing radiation. This includes mammography, x-rays and other medical and dental sources.
An analysis conducted by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) reveals that, overall, ultrasounds have a 95.7 percent sensitivity rate in detecting malignant tumor cells while mammograms are only 60.9 percent sensitive, by comparison. Among 1,208 cases evaluated, ultrasounds also successfully detected about 57 percent more harmful breast cancers compared to mammograms.
Earlier study finds ultrasounds far more effective than mammograms. A New Zealand study published in the American Journal of Surgery back in 2004 clearly illustrates this point, having found that ultrasound is "significantly better than mammography for detecting invasive breast cancer," having demonstrated a 92 percent success rate. Combining both mammography and ultrasound, on the other hand, only increased breast cancer detection by nine percent, which may represent statistical insignificance.