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Be Safe When Using Diagnostic Ultrasound

Diagnostic ultrasound is a safe and secure method of examining the internal organs, while avoiding the use of radiation. Instead, high-frequency sound waves are generated and the echoes that result from their bouncing off soft tissue structures can be used to measure size, to detect structural abnormalities, to determine whether a lump is solid or fluid-filled or to monitor growth of a fetus during pregnancy.

One of the reasons diagnostic ultrasound is gaining in popular usage as an imaging technology is because it is very safe in comparison with other techniques, such as x-ray imaging. This doesn’t mean, however, that diagnostic ultrasound doesn’t have some hazards if improperly used. The danger of diagnostic ultrasound, if any, seems not so much to be from misuse but from overuse. As is the case with many other things too much of a good thing is not a good idea!

The type of imaging that is utilized in diagnostic ultrasound is used much of the time to try to identify problems or to pinpoint potential problems. Diagnostic ultrasound is very commonly used to determine the sex of unborn babies and the term “diagnostic ultrasound” invokes images of fetal pictures and growing babies. But diagnostic ultrasound systems have many other features, including precision and delicacy when operating on eyes to emulsify cataracts to make way for lens implants. Diagnostic ultrasound is also used to explore and monitor the entire human physical organism. No matter what diagnostic ultrasound is being used for, there is one common rule – the safety of the patient comes first.


Even though diagnostic ultrasound is so universally used, there is still some debate and even controversy about whether it is completely safe. Diagnostic ultrasound studies on laboratory mice have shown some cellular effects, such as slowed cell division and increased cell death, shown to be linked with prolonged usage of diagnostic ultrasound.


A few other diagnostic ultrasound studies have found associations between large amounts of diagnostic ultrasound and decreased birth weight, although the majority of studies have found that there are no negative correlations associated with diagnostic ultrasound and that there are no ill effects from safe and more sensible usage.


In fact, The World Health Organization recognizes diagnostic ultrasound as generally safe and recommends its use. To quote them: “Diagnostic ultrasound is recognized as a safe, effective, and highly flexible imaging modality capable of providing clinically relevant information about most parts of the body in a rapid and cost-effective fashion.”


Some sources are far more confrontational about the entire diagnostic ultrasound issue than others. Many dismiss the claims that diagnostic ultrasound is dangerous as an overreaction with no research to back it up, while others assert that the information generally disclosed in the industry is not 100% truthful and thorough, and that there are indeed significant dangers associated with diagnostic ultrasound. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain that it is 100% safe and should be used with caution.


A good rule of thumb seems to be that especially when concerning prenatal diagnostic ultrasound, it should only be undertaken when really necessary, and only by well- trained professionals. It has become very popular to use diagnostic ultrasound in order to simply take pictures of the unborn baby or determine whether it is a boy or a girl. This practice, and repeated diagnostic ultrasound when there are no problems that clearly need diagnosis or monitoring, should be discouraged. It is better to be on the safe side with this and any other medical procedure, even if there is only a small amount of doubt about the safety of diagnostic ultrasound.

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