Diagnostic use of sonographic imaging can cause

Diagnostic Medical Sonography, also referred to as Ultrasound, is one of the most widely used and rapidly growing methods of imaging in today’s medical field. Oftentimes, doctors and other health care professionals are in a race against time in searching for clues, causes, and/or answers as to why a patient presents with certain ailments or problems. Medical sonography can reveal pertinent information to the well-trained eye by use of sound waves, which are transmitted through a handheld device, known as a transducer or probe. A transducer, when pressed firmly against a patient’s skin, produces high frequency sound waves, which reflect off of different internal structures (i.e. organs) and in turn, produce a readable image on a computer screen. These images allow professionals to see within the human body in an effort to diagnose and in many cases, treat disease. Many studies have indicated that the use of sonographic imaging can cause bio-effects including thermal and non-thermal (mechanical) effects, but no adverse affects on the human body. At present, long-term bio-effects of ultrasound remain unclear; however, the general consensus is that Diagnostic Medical Sonography is safe so long as caution is heeded as imaging machines are becoming more advanced and more powerful with the times.            Thermal effects of ultrasound are related to the production of heat, which is caused by energy absorption and can be potentially hazardous to a patient if not properly monitored, especially in a fetus. A normal core body temperature is generally accepted to be 37 degrees Celsius. Because ultrasound machines are capable of causing a rise in temperature in body tissues, minimizing exposure time during patient exams helps to ensure safety. It is also imperative that the sonographer has the proper knowledge of machine/device specific settings in which they are using as temperatures above 43 degrees Celsius can cause protein degeneration and tissue necrosis. Moreover, with advanced technology and proficiency in the use of a transducer, thermal effects do not usually occur.In contrast, acoustic force, torque, pressure, streaming, shock waves and cavitation are all considered non-thermal/mechanical effects of sonography. Acoustic cavitation, the presentation of gas bubbles in hollow body cavities, seems to be the most widely studied non-thermal effect of ultrasound. Cavitation is basically the interaction of sound waves with gas bubbles in bodily tissues and how they form and collapse. Ultrasound waves cause the gas bubbles to expand and contract and the gas bubbles send off resulting images as they reflect back to the probe/computer monitor. In some instances, healthcare professionals inject contrast to obtain better images. According to the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), “the only cavitation bioeffect identified at intensities typical of diagnostic ultrasound are in tissues with a well defined population of stabilized gas bodies, such as the lungs.” Moreover, fetal lungs do not contain gas bubbles. Therefore, they would not be susceptible to the mechanical effects of cavitation. When practicing ultrasound, protective measures such as: using the lowest power possible, reducing exposure times, and moving the transducer around can be implemented to reduce the risks of acoustic exposure and thus limit the possibility of mechanical effects on the body.According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Diagnostic Medical Sonography has been used safely for 20+ years in diagnosing, evaluating, and treating medical conditions. The FDA recommends that health care providers use the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) Standards when practicing to ensure the safety of patients. Additionally, thermal and mechanical indexes have been implemented on the latest systems to warn operators of potential risks and to provide warning criteria. Many studies have confirmed that the benefits outweigh the risks, in ultrasound technology as stated by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP).To conclude, I honestly feel as though the benefits of Diagnostic Medical Sonography are far greater than the risks involved as there is no real evidence of adverse effects on the human body. As with any medical practice or procedure, there is always new and forthcoming information, which in turn means new technology. If it were not for new technology, patients would not have access to new, improved and in some cases, life-saving medical advancements. Upon researching the biological effects associated with ultrasound, I have no objections to fully participating in lab scanning as it will be a crucial part of the learning process.