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How Do Ultrasound Machines Work

A couple of days ago, I came across a used ultrasound machine for sale. I stared at it for some time and thought to myself ho how much this Frankenstein machine worked. I came home and did my research. And over the course of this piece, I’m going to share everything I’ve learned during my research. So let’s get started –

How These Machines Actually Work

An ultrasonic scanner comprises several parts, including a CPU, a keyboard containing control knobs, a monitor, a printer, disk storage devices, a transducer probe and much more.

Unlike X-ray machines, ultrasonic machines don’t use electromagnetic waves to develop images of the human body. In terms of structure, ultrasound machines are downright simple. It comprises 2 fundamental components –

  1. A transducer probe that transfers sound waves and picks up their echoes
  • A CPU that provides power to the transducer probe, does all the calculations and displays the images of the interior on the screen

The most crucial item is the transducer probe. It generates sound waves that are used in ultrasound and receive the responses. It’s done by exploiting a scientific term named ‘piezoelectric effect’, also called the pressure electricity effect.

This effect was first discovered back in 1880 by Jacques Curie and Pierre. It makes quartz crystals inside the ultrasound probe to vibrate super-fast and emitting sounds waves that are mechanized pressure waves when you apply an electrical current to them. That’s exactly how quartz crystals inside an ultrasonic probe can send and receive such ultrasonic waves. These probes leverage sound-engrossing materials so they don’t re-reflect the echoes generated. And in order to focus and direct the sound waves, they employ acoustic lenses.

The ultrasonic technician uses a mineral-oil-powered ultrasound gel on the patient’s skin before they perform the ultrasound scan. Ultrasonic waves don’t move well through air. And their gel lets sound waves get carried from the probe through the gel straight to the patient’s skin. Linear probes generate extreme frequencies and produce HD images. But don’t penetrate any deeper and contain a wide footprint for capturing bigger structures. Cardiac probes or phased array, both contain a little field that transmits among ribs, thereby, avoid rib shadows on images of that area.

Probes easily get attached to the central processing unit (CPU) or the main device of an ultrasound utility. The CPU sends out electrical currents that make the probe emanate sound waves. It also analyzes electrical pulses that the probe generates when responding to reflected waves that are returning. Then, the CPU forms the data into images that you can view on your associated monitor, kept in disk or printed.

Ultrasonic scanners also come with buttons, control nobs, as well as other commanding features on the CPU to allow the sonographer to create adjustments, save the images, and do other stuff.

Last Words

If you’ve read this far, then chances are, you’ve gained an understanding of how ultrasound machines work. These devices are prominent diagnostic equipment. Let me know your question and opinion down in the comments below and I’ll get back to you right away.


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