Ultrasound is a sound wave that usually has a high frequency higher than what the human ears can tolerate. Ultrasound cannot be heard by humans so it is generally safe for the hearing. Ultrasound is used to penetrate a medium and subsequently measure the reflection of the sound on the area it was focused. Ultrasound is used in a variety of applications, but he most common use is for diagnostic purposes.
Diagnostic ultrasound, diagnostic sonography or medical sonography is the use of ultrasound waves for medical imaging. Diagnostic ultrasound is commonly used to visualize the tendons, muscles and internal organs. Visualizing these structures aim at examining the size, shape, or presence of any abnormal findings in a given body area. Diagnostic ultrasound is commonly used in prenatal check-ups where the fetus and placental structures are observed. Aside from these, ultrasound is also commonly used in musculoskeletal problems to examine the muscles, tendons, ligaments and other structures. However, ultrasound may not be able to visualize the bone structures as clearly as other imaging studies can.
Diagnostic ultrasound has already been used in medicine for at least 50 years and is considered one of the most common diagnostic tools employed to diagnose conditions. Diagnostic ultrasound is generally cheap compared to other imaging techniques such as CT scan, PET scan and MRI.
Specific Uses of Diagnostic Ultrasound
Diagnostic ultrasound is used for various imaging of soft tissues in the body. These include:
- Cardiac ultrasound
- Renal Ultrasound
- Liver Ultrasound
- Gallbladder Ultrasound
- Imaging of muscles, tendons and ligaments
- Ophthalmic ultrasound
- Testicular ultrasound
- Thyroid ultrasound
- Salivary glands imaging
- Lymph nodes imaging
- Obstetric sonography
Diagnostic ultrasound is usually ordered by chiropractic physicians, like Dr. Mohr, your Wesley Chapel chiropractor, or rehabilitation physicians in order to detect problems in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that may contribute to musculoskeletal problems.
Aside from these imaging studies, ultrasound is also used in various laboratory testing such as biopsy and fine needle aspiration to guide the instruments to be inserted in organs or areas of the body that need to be checked for cytology or cellular characteristics.
Effects of Diagnostic Ultrasound
Diagnostic ultrasound generally does not produce any serious harmful effects to humans. Diagnostic ultrasound is considered a safe diagnostic tool since it does not use radiation that may cause mutations in the cells. Ultrasound rays are not risks for the development of chromosomal aberrations or cancers.
However, diagnostic ultrasound may heat up soft tissues as a result of the mechanical pressure that passes through soft tissues through the ultrasound waves. This in turn may cause distortion of the cell membrane and cause inflammatory response in the soft tissues. Nevertheless, this effect is only minor as heat eventually dissipates out from the body. Despite these effects, long-term effects of diagnostic ultrasound are not yet known so it is still considered safe as compared to other imaging techniques.
Since diagnostic ultrasound may potentially lead to minor side effects, only trained and competent sonographers are allowed to employ diagnostic ultrasound among patients. Not all doctors are qualified to use ultrasound in order to ensure safety among those who need diagnostic evaluation.