What Is Ultrasound?

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound refers to very high frequency sound waves which cannot be heard by the human ear. It has been used in clinical diagnostic medicine since the 1950’s, however advances in technology over this time frame have meant that today’s sophisticated ultrasound systems have significantly increased, and continue to increase, the quantity and quality of diagnostic information obtainable though this invaluable medium

Ultrasound is a very safe means of determining disease or other medical conditions in the human body; if used correctly, there are no significant harmful side-effects known. It is ‘non-invasive’, which means that there is nothing that will penetrate the skin, or involve the injecting or ingestion of dyes or radio-opaque material.

During an ultrasound scan, the high frequency sound waves are passed into the body via a transducer which contacts the skin surface with the aid of a transmission gel. The sound waves generate echoes as they bounce back off internal structures, and these echoes are also received back via the transducer. The ultrasound system will then process the echoes, converting them into an image which is displayed on a screen or monitor.

What is vascular ultrasound?

Vascular ultrasound is one of the specialist ultrasound applications. Using the technique described above, the body’s circulatory system (arteries and veins) can be imaged and examined for abnormalities such as the build up of plaque on arterial walls, or the presence of thrombus or clot within a vein. In addition, Doppler ultrasound uses the principles of physics relating to moving objects and uses the Doppler Equation to calculate information about blood flow which is extremely important in diagnosing most vascular conditions.

Vascular ultrasound is used to assess blood flow to the brain and the body’s organs and extremities. It is used to assess varicose veins, vascular malformations, aneurysms or unusual anatomy. It helps the vascular surgeon or physician to plan treatments, and is of significant use in assessing the outcome of interventional procedures. Many modern varicose vein treatments are performed under ultrasound guidance.

What is a sonographer?

A sonographer is a diagnostic medical professional who performs the ultrasound scan. He or she has specialised qualifications to operate the ultrasound system, optimise the system’s settings relative to each individual examination, obtain the relevant information necessary for the most accurate diagnosis possible using this modality, and ensure patient comfort and privacy throughout the procedure. A sonographer therefore has an extremely responsible role in the diagnostic process, and must possess current appropriate qualifications and undergo continuing education programs to remain registered with the governing ultrasound bodies in Australia. At Vascular HealthCare Ultrasound, the senior sonographers have specialist vascular ultrasound qualifications and possess many years of experience in the field. Our trainees are also undergoing specialised vascular studies towards gaining the ‘DMU’ – Diploma of Medical Ultrasound (Vascular).

 

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