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A Brief Talk About the Development of Whole-Body Ultrasound Technology and Its Significance

Ultrasound definition

Ultrasound is high-frequency soundwaves used for examinations, which show a picture or image of the inner structures of the body on a screen. A radiologist uses an ultrasound scanner that utilizes a smooth handheld device known as a transducer. It is moved across the body in sliding and rotating action, which transmits the ultrasound waves into the body. These sound waves produce a moving image by converting the sound waves reflected from different tissues, organ structures, or body parts into electrical impulses.

Figure 1. Modern Ultrasound technique
Figure 1. Modern Ultrasound technique

As compared to other diagnostic methods, ultrasound offers numerous advantages. Some of them include:

  • Noninvasive.

  • It does not use any ionizing radiation. Therefore, it is safe.

  • It ensures images with great details and gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not demonstrate clearly on x-ray images.

  • It preferred imaging modality to diagnose and monitor pregnant women and their unborn babies.

  • It provides real-time imaging; thus, it is good for guiding minimally invasive procedures, such as needle biopsies and needle aspiration.

Figure 2. Ultrasound Guided Needle Biopsies
Figure 2. Ultrasound Guided Needle Biopsies

The development of ultrasound included the advancing Doppler paradigm (1966) to enable scanning layers of the heart via blood flow. Doppler ultrasound is a widely used method to diagnose any condition in modern medical science. It can estimate the blood flow through vessels compared to the traditional ultrasound method, which cannot show blood flow. This requires us to understand what a Doppler ultrasound is and why Viatom provides a handheld ultrasound scanner with this technology.

What is a Doppler ultrasound?

Figure 3. Doppler ultrasound adult patient case
Figure 3. Doppler ultrasound adult patient case

Doppler ultrasound is a modern imaging technique that allows physicians to examine the blood flow through vessels. It works by measuring sound waves that are reflected from moving objects, such as red blood cells. This is known as the Doppler effect.

There are different types of Doppler ultrasound scanners, and each one has unique capabilities. Some of them are:

  1. Color Doppler: It shows the speed and direction of blood flow through a blood artery by transforming Doppler measurements into a spectrum of colors using a computer.

  2. Power Doppler: It is a newer technique more sensitive than color Doppler, which can provide great detail of blood flow, especially when blood flow is minimal. However, it does not help the radiologist determine the direction of blood flow.

  3. Spectral Doppler: It depicts blood flow measurements graphically, rather than as a color picture. It can also translate information about blood flow into a distinct sound that can be heard with each heartbeat.

Figure 4. Doppler Ultrasound exam
Figure 4. Doppler Ultrasound exam

As aforementioned, ultrasound is used more appropriately only to describe the potential of large bedside ultrasound scanners.

Now, imagine if an ultrasound scanner is available as a handheld device and demonstrates all the features of previous generations with advanced capabilities. Portable whole-body ultrasound scanners have been utilized in imaging and diagnosis of various disease conditions, and their applications in point of care are many.

Applications of whole-body ultrasound in point of care

Expediting triage and time to diagnosis is crucial to decreasing morbidity in critically ill patients. Point-of-care testing has been proved to address these problems, which leads to better patient outcomes.

Point-of-care ultrasonography is a technique that is brought to the patient and performed in real-time. Point-of-care ultrasound images are available almost instantly. The clinician can use real-time dynamic images (rather than images recorded by a sonographer and interpreted later), allowing findings to be directly correlated with the patient's presenting signs and symptoms.

There are four main clinical applications for point of care ultrasound:

• Musculoskeletal (MSK);

• Cardiac/critical care;

• Emergency medicine (hospital-based and urgent care);

• Anesthesia and pain management.

In musculoskeletal imaging:

Point of care ultrasound has seen significant growth in musculoskeletal (MSK) applications due to its ability to visualize soft tissue tears in muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joint spaces at a high resolution that cannot be detected on X-ray.

Viatom dual-head ultrasound device offers flexibility to scan any body part just by flipping the device. The scanner is also used to detect foreign bodies or abnormal growths, such as tumors and calcifications, as well as early bone changes, including subclinical synovitis and early bony erosions.

In cardiology: