Ultrasound technology provides non-invasive and real-time images of the body’s internal structures. Ultrasounds have significantly changed over time with improvements to portability, image quality, and functionality.
As one of the most common forms of medical imaging, ultrasounds play an important role in helping physicians monitor, diagnose, and treat conditions. Explore how ultrasound machines have changed over the years.
Early Ultrasound Machines
Medical facilities began using ultrasounds during World War II. The US military first used ultrasound technology to detect small cracks in metal ship hulls, but medical professionals, such as the British doctor John J. Wild, quickly saw how the technology could benefit medical care.
In the mid-1950s, professionals worldwide worked to improve ultrasounds for practical applications. Their efforts resulted in more widespread use of ultrasounds in the ensuing decades.
Water Baths and Imaging
Scientists used military equipment and strategies in the earliest years of ultrasound development. Since sound waves move faster through water than air, scientific teams in the 1950s would partially submerge people in water to create ultrasound images. Today, ultrasound techs use gel to form a bond between the probe and skin and to eliminate air.
Introduction of Digital Tech
In 1979, Siemens introduced the Diasonics RA-1, which combined image capture and digital image processing for the first time. The RA-1’s process created higher-resolution images and significantly reduced scan time.
Adding digital processing to analog technology improved image resolution and paved the way for faster, more reliable ultrasounds. The advancement improved the visualization of anatomical structures and increased diagnostic accuracy.
Smaller sizing is one of the most significant ways ultrasound machines have changed over the years. As technology advanced and components became smaller, ultrasounds became smaller—now, we have portable ultrasound machines on the market.
Compact ultrasound systems allow medical professionals to perform imaging procedures at the point of care, whether that’s in clinics, emergency rooms, or remote locations. Portable machines greatly expanded access to medical imaging, particularly in underserved areas and during emergencies.
3D and 4D Ultrasounds
With advancements in transducer technology and image processing, ultrasound machines gained the ability to produce three-dimensional (3D) and real-time four-dimensional (4D) images. These types of images provide healthcare professionals with a more comprehensive view of anatomical parts.
Some new ultrasounds allow the operator to move seamlessly between 2D, 3D, and 4D imaging modes. Enhanced flexibility and responsiveness give medical professionals precise information whenever they need it.
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