How Ultrasounds Have Changed Over the Years

How Ultrasounds Have Changed Over the Years

Ultrasounds help medical providers see inside your body without pain, radiation, or invasive procedures. By providing a picture of the interior of your body, ultrasounds allow us to observe and assess your unborn baby and other aspects of your pregnancy. 

At other times, ultrasounds are used to gather information about internal structures, such as your reproductive organs, heart, kidneys, and breasts for screening and diagnosis. 

Our OB/GYNs and staff at The Association for Women’s Health Care provide state-of-the-art ultrasound services in the comfort and convenience of our offices. 

Our professional staff has the expertise to ensure that your ultrasound delivers the information we need, whether it’s to assess the health of your unborn baby or to examine an area of concern inside your body.

The origins of ultrasound

Ultrasounds, sometimes called sonograms, use sound waves to capture an image of an area inside your body. While the use of ultrasound images is common and safe today, the procedure took time to perfect. 

The foundation for ultrasound technology is based on the work of physicist Lazzaro Spallanzani, who performed experiments on echolocation in the 1790s. The principles of echolocation involve a form of ultrasound in which locations are identified through sound waves that are bounced back from objects. Echolocation is the system that bats use to navigate in the dark. 

Ultrasounds for medical use

Ultrasound was introduced for medical use in the 1950s when Professor Ian Donald, chair of midwifery at Glasgow University, initiated research on the use of sonography to look inside the human body. 

Donald and two colleagues published a pioneering medical research paper that described the use of ultrasound scanning techniques in pregnancy, using the first contact compound 2D ultrasound scanning machine called a diasonograph. 

Since the late 1950s, the use of 2D has become integral in prenatal care as well as other applications involving the study of internal structures in the body. 

Ultrasound imaging uses a small transducer to send high-frequency sound waves into your body. The sounds bounce back to the transducer, which sends them to a computer to assemble the sound waves and create an image. 

One of the advantages of using ultrasound to study the development of unborn babies is that ultrasound doesn’t use radiation, so there’s no risk of side effects to you and your unborn baby.

If your pregnancy proceeds without complications, we may use a routine 2D ultrasound during the first trimester to determine fetal age. The next ultrasound is usually during your second trimester, when we can assess anatomic details, including the sex of your baby. 

We may recommend an ultrasound at other times in your life if we suspect problems with organs and structures within your pelvic area. A pelvic ultrasound allows us to see your cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

3D and 4D ultrasounds

Over the years, ultrasound technology has undergone significant improvement, resulting in improved image quality, smaller machines, and more efficient procedures. 

State-of-the-art ultrasound includes 3D and 4D ultrasounds that provide more detailed images. 

A 3D ultrasound uses multiple 2D images from different angles rendered together to provide a 3D image of your unborn baby. The technology allows you to see the shape of your baby’s nose, mouth, cheeks, and eyes. 

4D images provide comparable details, along with the movement of the fetus or organs in real-time.

While the details provided in 3D and 4D ultrasounds can produce remarkable keepsakes for parents eager to see their babies smiling or yawning in utero, the images can also help us detect medical conditions such as heart defects, a cleft lip, and skeletal or neural abnormalities. 

Find out more about innovations in ultrasound technology that can make a difference in your health. Contact our Chicago or Northbrook, Illinois, office today to arrange a consultation.

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