The field of medicine is home to some of the most amazing machines and marvels in the world. Along with today’s complex procedures there are numerous pieces of remarkable equipment that deliver physicians, surgeons, and other medical professionals the ability to complete tasks that were once thought impossible. Since the late fifties ultrasounds have been used to diagnose conditions, locate abnormalities, chart the growth of unborn babies, and much more. Today’s ultrasound machines are much more advanced than those from fifty years ago, but they still rely on the same basic principle. If you’re curious about how ultrasound machines work, here’s a brief overview.
An ultrasound machine basically has three major components – the transducer, the control bank, and the monitor. There are other parts such as the chassis that powers the equipment, but those three are the main ones to understand.
- Transducer – The transducer is really the ‘business end’ of an ultrasound machine. The ultrasound technician places it onto the patient’s body where it beams high frequency sound waves into the body. Those waves travel until they reach a boundary between substances such as the boundary between organ and fluid or muscle and bone, where they are reflected back to the transducer. Using the strength and length of time it took the echoes to return the transducer uses them to turn them into an image.
- Monitor – This is nothing more than a screen used to display the images that the transducer is creating. In most cases it will display a black and white two dimensional image although other modes of sonography may display Doppler Effect images or even 3D images.
- Controls – The ultrasound also has a bank of controls that the ultrasound technician can use to dictate the parameters of the machine. The frequency of the sound waves, the sonography mode used, and other parameters can be changed. This is where images will be captured and labeled as well.
Other ultrasound machines may have additional capabilities. Certain types of ultrasounds may require a probe to be inserted into an orifice, for example, and in these cases the machine will facilitate this. More advanced machines may be able to take 3D images that are exceptionally lifelike or have multiple modes of operation.
There are many different types of ultrasound machines but they all function basically the same way. They’re the most commonly used diagnostic tool in medicine and are relied on every single day.