New Revelations - Portable Ultrasound Machines

Portable Ultrasound 

Ultrasound is a minor miracle of medical science. It runs on the same principle that guides the natural echolocation of bats and dolphins, as well as the SONAR that helps submarines navigate the oceans and avoid obstacles.

How It Works

In brief, an ultrasound machine emits sound waves and forms images by reading the echoes. More precisely, a probe sends millions of very high-frequency waves, about 1 to 5 megahertz, into the body. The sound waves travel until they hit a boundary between tissues. Some get reflected back, others continue on.

The waves that are reflected back are read by the probe. They are turned into electronic data that gets sent to a computer, which calculates the relative distances of the tissues by the timing of the echoes. The computer then uses the data to display an image on a screen, which can then be printed out.

While ultrasound machines vary in size and function, each one will have a set of similar parts. For instance, every ultrasound devices has a transducer probe, which is really the essential part of the machine. An electric current run through the transducer probe causes a piezoelectric quartz crystal to vibrate, producing high-frequency sound. The crystals can also turn motion into electric current, and thus to receive sound as well.

Ultrasound machines also have a CPU that processes the data from the probe, runs the calculations that turn it into an image, and stores it in memory. A transducer pulse control helps the operator fine-tune the electric current being run to the crystals in the transducer, and thus to regulate the sound waves and refine the image.

A display renders the image produced by the CPU's calculations. A keyboard helps the operator run calculations and take notes on the data. Disk storage allows a patient's data to be safely archived after the tests are completed. Finally a printer allows the image to be printed out, typically for the patient's reference.

How It's Used

Ultrasound has many uses in medicine. In obstetrics and gynecology, it can be used to monitor the development of a fetus and make sure all is proceeding normally. It can also provide expectant parents with information about the baby, such as its size and gender.

In cardiology, ultrasound can examine the structures of the heart to make sure there are no abnormal developments. It can also monitor rates of blood flow into and out of the heart. Doppler ultrasound is often used for this purpose.

Ultrasound can be used in urology to monitor blood flow through the kidneys. It can detect kidney stones and prostate cancer. In addition, 3D ultrasound can compile multiple 2D images into a 3D image that makes it easier to detect such things as tumors and lesions.

Portable Ultrasound

In the past decade, advances in technology, especially IT, have made it possible to miniaturize ultrasound. These smaller, more lightweight devices are of enormous benefit to emergency res-ponders on battlefields and in ambulance response. They are also being used by anesthesiologists to more accurately guide the administration of local anesthetics and nerve blocks.

Portable ultrasound machines free medical teams from reliance on a single machine, allowing hospitals to provide greater service at lower cost. Physicians are also beginning to incorporate them in their practices as diagnostic tools.

Because portable ultrasound makes it easier for patients to visualize problems, it allows doctors to more fully explain a diagnosis to their patients. By making a particular problem more concrete and visual, it helps the patient comprehend it, take it seriously, and thus encourages them to fully comply with the doctor's prognosis.


Ultrasound has been an invaluable diagnostic tool since the early 1900s. This fascinating technology uses the physical principles of sound to visualize problems hidden in layers of flesh. Portable ultrasound technology is the next step in its development. It will help doctors save lives and patients live them.