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What are the branches of Ultrasound/bases of ultrasound/history

Ultrasound is an imaging procedure that uses the echoes (reflections of sound waves) resulting from the emission of ultrasound (sound waves above the audible spectrum) directed on a body or object to build an internal image of it. To do this, it uses a small instrument very similar to a microphone called a “transducer” or probe , which transmits the waves to the study area and receives the echo produced, converting it into an image with the help of a computer, which is part of the equipment. . What are the branches of Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is highly used in our times by various branches of medical science as a non-invasive support procedure for the diagnosis of diseases and evaluation of conditions of certain pathologies (states, sizes and shapes). But it can also be used as support in procedures considered invasive such as surgical operations , to guide the needle that is used to anesthetize, for example.

Bases of ultrasound

It is not possible to speak directly about the branches of ultrasound, but it can be said that ultrasound is based on physics, whose basic principles explain its operation.

Sound is defined as the set of vibrations that propagate through a medium (air, for example) and that are perceived by the ear. Sound waves have a frequency, which is measured in cycles per second (Hertz – Hz).

There is a frequency band for sounds audible by humans without the aid of equipment. This frequency band oscillates between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz . Beyond that band is ultrasound, with frequencies above 20 KHz or 20,000 Hz.

The echo is the result of the impact of a sound wave against a surface capable of reflecting them. Such reflection occurs in cases where there are two contiguous or adjacent surfaces that present different impedance values, the impedance being the resistance that the surface opposes to the passage of the sound wave.

When the sound wave collides with the surface, a part of the energy of the wave is returned and is collected by the equipment, analyzed and interpreted as an image. The equipment used to do ultrasounds is called an ultrasound machine.

The Echograph

The equipment with which the ultrasound is performed is known as an ultrasound machine, and it is made up of the following elements: What are the branches of Ultrasound?

  • The Generator is in charge of generating pulses of electrical current to the transducer.
  • The transducer or probe has crystals that are stimulated by the electrical pulses of the generator, thus generating high frequency sound waves (ultrasound). The received echo stimulates the crystals again, converting them into electrical pulses again.
  • The analog-digital converter receives the signal from the transducer (electrical pulses) and converts them into binary information (ones and zeros).
  • The graphic memory orders the information received and presents it in the form of an image
  • The monitor is the screen through which information is viewed in real time.

The ultrasound machine has a graphic record to save, print or record the images on another equipment or computer. It also has keys for making various adjustments in order to optimize the image displayed on the monitor.

History of ultrasound

Although there were several attempts to develop the idea dating back to 1912, when after the sinking of the Titanic the use of ultrasonic echoes to detect submerged objects was suggested, it was not until 1942 in Austria that the psychiatrist Karl Dussik tried to detect brain tumors by passing a beam of sound through the skull. That would be the first record of the use of this technique for medical purposes in the world.

In 1949, a pulsed echo technique was published to detect foreign bodies and stones in the body. And by the year 1960, the first two-dimensional ultrasound machine for the study of pregnancy was already available.

In 1977, the first vaginal probe appeared, which improves the study of the first weeks of gestation.

In the eighties, the procedure was significantly revolutionized by incorporating a computer into the devices, which made it possible to obtain images in real time. What are the branches of Ultrasound?

In the year 1997, the first three-dimensional ultrasound system was installed in Barcelona.

Branches of medicine that use ultrasound

In its early days, ultrasound was for the exclusive use of radiologists to diagnose. But over time this technique has been generalized, spreading to other branches of medicine among which we have: cardiology, gynecology, gastroenterology, neurology, surgery, rheumatology and sports medicine among others.


In gynecology and obstetrics, ultrasound is used as a non-invasive examination technique to:

  • Determine the size of the fetus and thus determine its age.
  • Check the position of the placenta
  • Determine the number of fetuses in the uterus
  • Know the sex of the baby
  • Check the normal growth of the baby
  • Detect ectopic pregnancies
  • Checking the proper amount of amniotic fluid
  • Discover tumors in the ovaries and breasts


Ultrasound is useful for cardiologists to improve their ability to diagnose and treat heart ailments without subjecting the patient to X-rays or a CT scan. Ultrasound is also used to:

  • Measure the blood flow of the heart and the main arteries of the body.
  • See inside the heart to identify abnormal functions
  • Identify effusions and cardiac tamponade What are the branches of Ultrasound?


In urology the ultrasound is used to:

  • Find kidney stones
  • Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
  • Measure blood flow through the kidneys


In dermatology, ultrasound is used to establish priorities in patients with skin diseases. Other advantages offered by the use of ultrasound in dermatology are the following:

  • Contributes to the diagnosis of benign and malignant skin tumors
  • Helps in the diagnosis and monitoring of inflammatory skin diseases.
  • Help in the diagnosis of nail diseases
  • Complement the study of pathologies in the scalp
  • effectively assess skin aging


Ultrasound offers endocrinologists a tool that increases the reliability of their diagnoses and thus reduces complications. It is used among other things to:

  • the study of thyroid nodular pathology
  • thyroid carcinoma study
  • the localization diagnosis of primary hyperthyroidism


In ophthalmology, ultrasound is used to detect different pathologies in the eyeball


Ultrasound assists anesthesiologists primarily in guiding needle insertion procedures.

Application of ultrasound

According to the area to be evaluated, ultrasounds are classified into the following types:

Abdominal ultrasound : It is used to detect tumors in the following organs: liver, gallbladder, pancreas and inside the abdomen.

Vaginal ultrasound : Its use is focused on the study of the uterus, to detect the presence, position and size of fibroids or polyps, the endometrium, knowing the phase of the menstrual cycle, and the ovaries, in order to detect possible cysts , ectopic pregnancies or to do follicular count. What are the branches of Ultrasound?

Breast ultrasound : It is used to determine the benignity of a tumor, detecting whether the tumor is solid or liquid.

Transrectal ultrasound : It is used as a tool for the detection of prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.

Doppler ultrasound : It is also known as echo-Doppler. It is a variation of traditional ultrasound that allows the visualization of velocity waves that pass through certain structures of the body, which are usually blood vessels, and that cannot be observed directly. With this technique, you can determine the direction of the flow, whether it is moving away from the probe or towards it, as well as its speed. This ultrasound is known as a duplex ultrasound.

3D and 4D ultrasound : It is used in the field of maternal-fetal medicine to obtain three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound and moving images (4D).

Skin ultrasound : It is used in the detection of skin tumors, inflammatory processes and hair diseases. It also has applications in dermo-aesthetics. What are the branches of Ultrasound?

Evaluation of ultrasound

Although it is a relatively new technology compared to medical science and its branches, ultrasound has proven in its short history to be a versatile and accurate tool to identify problems , to verify progress and to accurately guide the application of surgical and diagnostic procedures. .

There are more and more medical specialties that use this procedure to support their diagnostic and disease detection procedures, which undoubtedly makes it a useful tool in the health area. What are the branches of Ultrasound?

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