Background of Technology


What is ultrasound technology?

‍‍‍‍The medical use of the term Ultrasound is the diagnostic or therapeutic use of ultrasound as a noninvasive technique involving the formation of a two-dimensional image used for the examination and measurement of internal body structures and detection of bodily abnormalities (Ultrasound, 2007).‍‍‍‍

Any sound with a frequency greater than 20,000Hz, approximately the upper limit of human hearing.

Nature's Ultrasound:‍‍

The first known venture into ultrasound physics happened in the 1790's. Lazzaro Spallanzan, who was a biologist and physiologist, studied the body functions, and the unknown wonders of the natural world. His curiosity on bats and how they could navigate at night and catch insects as they flew, led him to conduct research. He began by blindfolding bats and soon he realized that they were still able to maneuver very well. He then plugged their ears and found that they bumped into obstacles. He concluded that their primary mode of navigation was hearing. He deduced that they must emit unltrasound waves that are inaudible to humans, and then listen to the echoes to determine distance and direction of objects. This idea was received by his fellow scientists with ridicule and skepticism (, 2010).

‍‍‍‍‍‍‍Context 1‍

First Ultrasound Machine

If not for the work of Dr. Karl Dussik, an Austrian psychiatrist, we would not have the ultrasound technology we have today. He was the first to use ultrasound pictures in an attempt to diagnose brain tumors in the late 1930's. He called the pictures "hyperphonography". His goal was to detect brain tumors, and he also was first to find abnormalities in the head, tissue, and body fluids. He used a method of placing transducers on both sides of the patient while the patient's head was partly under water. They transmitted sound waves toward the patient at a known rate. ‍‍‍‍‍‍‍The echoes were then recorded on heat sensitive paper. The echoes recorded were among the first ultrasound images and were used to diagnose brain tumors
(, 2010).

‍‍‍‍‍‍‍Context 2

Use of Ultrasound during Pregnancy

Scottish professor Ian Donald, University of Glasgow, was the pioneer of obstetric ultrasound. He invented and improved on many devices used in pregnancy and fetal development. Working with Tom Brown and the Kelvin Hugh’s company, they invented the B-mode scanner. This machine produced images that could detect multiple fetuses. Twin ultrasound pictures could show the development of the babies as two distinct entities. With this machine they were able to measure the baby's head and evaluate health and fetal growth. These were the first ultrasounds in early pregnancy. He was able to detect complications such as fetal abnormality, placenta hemorrhaging, and multiple pregnancies. Ian Donald is a giant in the development of obstetric ultrasound
(, 2010).

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Transition statement: Now that the ultrasound got it start, we w‍ill examine some of the impacts.

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