October marks Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month (MUAM); an annual event designed to raise awareness of the importance of diagnostic sonography in medicine, celebrate the role sonographers play in healthcare, and educate the public about medical ultrasound.
What is ultrasound?
An ultrasound scan uses inaudible, high-frequency sound waves to obtain images from inside the body. It works by sending sound waves through the body via a transducer. These sound waves bounce off the body’s internal structures and travel back through the transducer to the machine, producing a very detailed view of the inside of the body on the screen.
Ultrasound facilitates life-saving diagnoses
Although we are most familiar with the use of medical ultrasound during pregnancy, many people are unaware that ultrasound is used for the detection and diagnosis of illnesses and diseases across the entire medical field. The images that sonographers produce can help detect and diagnose life-threatening conditions such as heart failure, blood clots, and cancers.
Recognising the work of sonographers
From echo to obstetrics, vascular to musculoskeletal, sonographers have touched someone’s life in one way or another. Commonly known as ‘medical detectives’, sonographers play a hugely important role in the detection and diagnosis of life-threatening diseases.
What’s more, sonography training is pretty extensive, requiring a minimum of six years’ University education to secure a role in most radiology departments.
The advantages of ultrasound
Cost-effective – Ultrasound imaging is a cost-effective diagnostic tool compared to other more expensive techniques such as CT and MRI.
Pain-free – Although occasionally slightly unpleasant or uncomfortable, ultrasound is pain-free and over fairly quickly.
Real-time imaging – Ultrasound facilitates ‘real time’ imaging, allowing for dynamic evaluation and therefore contributing significantly to a successful diagnosis.
No side effects – Unlike x-ray radiography, MRI, or CT scanning, there is no ionizing radiation or magnetic field exposure with sonography.