The History of Ultrasound

As the medical community’s needs continue to evolve, the technology used in medical ultrasound continues to make important improvements in patient outcomes, medical diagnosis, and treatment options. With an impressive history that begins with a study of bats, there is no denying the breakthroughs that ultrasound systems have given to the medical community over the past two centuries. This article will explore the history of ultrasound and note some of the significant milestones that made this technology what it is today. 

The Origins of Ultrasound 

Ultrasound science and technologies have had a long history – dating as far back as the discovery of echolocation among bats in 1794 by physiologist Lazzaro Spallanzani. Many of these same principles still govern how medical ultrasound continues to function in modern times. Spallanzani brought owls into a lab setting and found that they would not fly without a source of light; however, bats would freely fly around the room, carefully avoiding wires that had been hung from the ceiling. 

Even when the bats were permanently blinded, they could still avoid the wires hanging in the room. Spallanzani noted this because bells had been attached to the ends of the wires to alert the researcher if a wire had been hit. Although, placing a brass tube inside their ears would result in improper navigation. From this study, the physiologist determined that the bats were using their ears to navigate around their environment. This was achieved through a biological sonar we now know as echolocation. 

Medical Developments for Ultrasound 

As others began to build on the work piloted by Spallanzani, it wasn’t until 1942 that neurologist Karl Dussik was credited with the first medical use of ultrasonic waves for diagnostic purposes. Dussik transmitted an ultrasound beam through a human skull to try and detect brain tumors to achieve this. Although this technology was still in its infancy for medical applications, the noninvasive diagnostic capabilities showed the tremendous possibility for the future of ultrasound for medical imaging. 

Since Dussik’s breakthrough, ultrasound technology and its many healthcare applications have continued to evolve. New ultrasound diagnostic tools and medical procedure refinements continue to happen daily. In recent years, the development of portable, small ultrasound systems has become more widespread. This technology has helped further integrate ultrasound into more modalities and care areas that were not possible with bulky systems. 

In modern times, ultrasound systems are perhaps most well known for their use in obstetrics and gynecology, particularly using ultrasound to produce a fetal sonogram. While the first ultrasound image of a fetal head occurred around 1958, advancements and techniques progressed to what we now know as standard technologies around the 1970s.  

Why Choose Advanced Ultrasound Systems?

If you need new ultrasound systems or repairs on your existing equipment, the Advanced Ultrasound Systems team is here to help. We have invested heavily in our facility and have one of the most extensive new and refurbished parts, probes, and systems inventory in the business. For more information, please contact us or call us at (866) 620-2831.

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