Effects of Ultrasounds

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Ultrasounds are an important feature of technology used in our world today. The medical world uses ultrasounds and x-rays on an everyday bases. Ultrasounds are high-frequency sound waves and ultrasounds also produce sound waves that are beamed into the body causing return echoes that are recorded to visualize structures beneath the skin. Ultrasounds have thousands of different types and help doctors and patients see specific diseases and conditions that they cannot see otherwise. However, even though ultrasounds benefit people, many wonder if ultrasounds may have bad effects too.

Many wonder how do ultrasounds truly work. Ultrasounds are actually more complex than what they seem to be. First, the ultrasound machine transmits high-frequency sound pulses into your body using a probe, and then sound waves travel into your body and hit a boundary between tissues (Freudenrich, 2011). An example of this would be between fluid and soft tissue and soft tissue and bone. After that, some of the sound waves get reflected back to the probe, while some travel on further until they reach another boundary and get reflected, the reflected waves are then picked up by the probe and relayed to the machine. The machine calculates the distance from the probe to the tissue or organ using the speed of sound in tissue and the time of the each echo's return. Finally, the machine displays the distances and intensities of the echoes on the screen, forming a two dimensional image like the one shown below (Freudenrich, 2011).

Ultrasounds have been a part of the medical world since the 1940s. The affects of acoustic vibrations on the body were studied as early as the 6th century. Then, ultrasound gained widespread acceptance as a therapeutic trea...

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..., and as technology has improved, the machines have become smaller, portable and available for use at the patient's bedside.


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