Developed for military usage during World War II to locate underwater objects, sonography has come a long way and undergone major improvements that it is now available for medical purposes; instead of being used to figure out the exact location of a submarine or how fast a tornado travels towards your ship and therefore you have time to write a short obituary, the technology is now applied in multiple areas of healthcare for its therapeutic properties and diagnostic capacity.
Medical procedures that involve sonography often try to obtain visual imagery of internal organs, blood flow, or tissues. Depending on the medical conditions, a sonographer can point the equipment at patient’s abdomen, blood vessels, heart, breasts, reproductive organs, and other areas as necessary. Diagnostic medical sonography is so advanced to the point where it can actually show signs of a fetus’ conditions inside the mother’s womb. It can identify exact location of fetus, age, number, and even potential birth defects or abnormalities.
|Sonography can help a woman understand what happens to her belly, just in case she fails to notice how big it is|
Sonography can be considered both the medical field in which ultrasound devices are used and the actual procedure itself. Ultrasound devices emit high-frequency sound waves - the kind of sound that human hearing sense cannot perceive – to areas of the body at which the operator points the device, which in turns provides visual feedback to a connected monitor. It works much like sonar used by submarines.
During the procedure, a sonographer applies colorless odorless gel to the area to be observed or examined; this gel is made mostly of water. The main reason is that the high-frequency sound waves do not work well when it has to travel through air, especially when you want it to give visual feedback. Sonar works well because it is mostly used underwater, so does the ultrasound. This gel acts like a bridge between sensor material (the device) and body tissue. In much simpler word, the gel removes all the air between ultrasound device and human skin. Assuming it travels through a layer of air, almost the entire beam is reflected, giving nearly zero visual imagery. Rest assured that the gel is safe and some say it is even edible; you probably enjoy it more than you think.
As soon as the sound waves bounce off internal organs or fetus, they deliver images that appear on nearby screen. Sonographer or doctor can examine the image to tell if there is something peculiar displayed. In case a fly, an ant, and a mosquito are visible, it is probably because they cling to the screen, not inside your body. Images on the screen can be printed or recorded for further examination if needs be. In some cases, you can also take one of the printed images home and frame it for decoration.
Sonography vs. Ultrasound
In a world where those who know too little have the rights to talk too much, some (if not many) people – possibly including you – use the terms sonography and ultrasound almost interchangeably. Unfortunately we have to respect their opinions; they are wrong, but respect is in order anyway. Here is what’s true:
- Sonography is medical field or procedure in which ultrasound devices are utilized in the way it is intended to be used, for example not to block the door from the inside. Sonography is also often referred to as ultrasonography.
- Ultrasound is the device that emits high frequency sound used during diagnostic medical sonography.
Saying that ultrasound is interchangeable with sonography is like telling your kids that computer and internet are exactly the same things; they are not. If you want your kids to stay away from the internet, don’t tell them to shut down the computer because they will use a smartphone instead.
Ultrasound devices can deliver both 2D and 3D images on the screen. While two-dimensional images are considered sufficient for doctors to make diagnose, sometimes it is just fun to watch creepier realistic images of an early developing unborn infant inside a mother’s womb.