Diagnostic Medical Sonography has become the reliable and go to procedure to help diagnose the cause of pain, infection and swelling in the body’s internal organs. This scanning technique, using sound waves to produce internal images, has been around since the 1 950’s. An ultrasound, also known as sonography, is so beneficial to the medical world because it’s safe, painless and does not harm the patient. There are some minor biological effects that have been recognized, but nothing that has presented long term health issues. Fetal ultrasounds are widely used during pregnancy. These ultrasounds are performed by well trained sonographers, so that the woman and her baby are kept safe.
Fetal ultrasounds are usually performed at 20 weeks for the physician to confirm a baby’s growth in the uterus and to make sure the placenta is healthy. Ultrasound imaging sends sound waves through the uterus, which then bounce off of the baby’s body. The audible echoes are what is turned into images on the screen. The sonographer can hear the heartbeat as well as see whether the arms and legs are functioning properly. Research has found no link between ultrasounds and birth weight, childhood cancers, hearing or dyslexia, but are still kept for medical use only. Parents can not request an ultrasound for any other reason such as “just because” or “keepsake.
” Ultrasounds are based off of non-ionizing radiation, so it does not have the same risks as X-rays or other types of image testing. In some cases, the sonographer will perform atransvaginal ultrasound. These ultrasound methods have been used for decades and have an excellent safety record. During a scan, the equipment generates a small amount of heat (less than 1 degree Celsius), which is absorbed by the part of the body that’s being scanned. As far as any biological effects caused by ultrasound energy, heat is one of the main concerns. This heat can possibly cause small pockets of gas or bubbles in body fluids or tissue. The lungs and intestines are gas containing structures, so this is where the sonographer would most likelysee these bubbles. These small bubbles are known as cavitation and can induce medical stress on certain types tissue.
The long term side effects are still unknown. Exposure time for ultrasound scanning must be kept to a minimum to maintain safety from thermal injury. Every scan machine has a thermal index that is displayed on the screen. This information gives a rough estimate to the amount of heat that might be produced after excess exposure. Most machines have a low thermal index, which lowers the possibility of the patient experiencing any biological effects. Sonographers are trained to minimize the length of each scan session to make sure the patients are at little to no risk. For safety reasons, the length of a fetal ultrasound should be kept within 40 minutes. Doppler scans have a slightly higher thermal index.
These scans are still low risk to the patient and the amount of time per session should also be limited. In most cases, these scans should only last a few minutes. When Doppler scans are performed with a vaginal probe, the fetus should be past the early stages of development to ensure the patient is safe. When the fetus is around 12 weeks of development, bones are just beginning to form. If a scan is performed any earlier, the tissue can heat up quicker which can increase the possibility of potential harm. Holding a probe motionless should also be avoided to reduce patient risk. In addition, if a fever is present during a scan, the procedure should be as brief as possible due to the elevated temperature.
All in all, most health professionals and experts agree that Diagnostic Medical Sonography is unlikely to cause biological effects to the human body. To date, there has been no proven evidence of any health related issues or biological effects caused by ultrasound scans. Since ultrasounds do not use ionizing radiation the possibility of risk is not likely. As long as the sonographer follows the correct guidelines, the patients are safe. As a new student in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, I am glad this topic was presented. I was able to research and discuss a very important issue and I look forward to experiencing the scanning process during this program. Now that I understand the minimal risks and minor biological effects of ultrasound imaging, I feel much more comfortable about receiving and even performing this type of high frequency, sound wave technology. I really admire the fact that this procedure uses non-ionizing radiation to achieve results, especially knowing a mother and baby will be safe.
I am thrilled to begin my sonography studies and continue to gain knowledge about how to perform a proper scan. A well-trained sonographer needs to be able to keep patients calm and at ease since some patients will be concerned with side effects. In any procedure, there is a possibility of complications. However, with years of positive feedback and no proven biological effects, I feel confident about receiving ultrasounds in class and performing them as a future sonographer.