Not so long ago the mention of “ultrasound imaging” usually first brought to mind fascinating pictures of fetuses still in the womb. The people who understood the greater abilities of sonography imaging were usually studying Diagnostic Medical Sonography or working as sonographers. Over the last decade, ultrasound technology has become increasingly sophisticated, leading researchers pursue new uses for sonography imaging.
Ultrasound imaging today is used for a host of purposes that include disease analysis like Alzheimer’s Disease. At the same time, research is ongoing, and exciting new applications are being studied, like transcranial ultrasound therapy. The implication for today’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography student is that the anticipated career will likely be filled with new opportunities that do not even exist yet.
Technology Catches Up with Ideas
At the University of Eastern Finland, a group of researchers is studying the expanded use of transcranial ultrasound therapy for the treatment of targeted drug delivery and brain tumors. The word “expanded” is used because ultrasound is already used for treating essential tremors and neuropathic pain disorder. Though there is much more research needed to perfect the procedure, the active research is likely to successfully develop a field-applicable transcranial ultrasound therapy.
Anyone considering a career in Diagnostic Medical Sonography has chosen an exciting field. Though ultrasound imaging has been used for many years, it is not anywhere near being fully utilized. The health field was waiting for technology to catch up. Sonography students learn how to use a variety of sophisticated, computerized equipment while working through a CAAHEP accredited program, but once working will discover the learning never stops because technology never stops advancing. For example, contrast ultrasound imaging is a new technology that holds promise to transform ultrasound’s clinical role in the diagnosis of cardiac and vascular disease.
Sonography Imaging: Staying Focused
Diagnostic ultrasound imaging is considered to be a major technique for detecting disease in children and adults. It is used in the area of disease analysis for the following:
- Assess breast masses originally detected in mammograms
- Detect breast cysts
- Assess the presence and stage of heart disease
- Assess the presence and stage of vascular disease
- Detect disease in the prostate gland or testicles
- Detect liver disease
- Detect kidney disease
- Guide biopsies for disease diagnosis
- Identify nerve damage that may be disease related
- Examine gallstones
- Identify pancreas disease
One of the newest advances is focused ultrasound, which is designed to be an early-state therapeutic technology. The technology uses ultrasonic energy that can be guided by ultrasound imaging or magnetic resonance to reach deep into the body or tissue.
The International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU) held its annual symposium in Charlottesville, Virginia, in April 2014. The presentations discussed the body of data that supports the efficacy of focused ultrasound to treat a variety of conditions like brain tumors, cancer and movement disorders. Focused ultrasound is being intensely studied as a possible treatment for relieving some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, like tremors and dyskinesia. The benefits of using ultrasound include the fact it is:
- May provide immediate therapeutic effects
- Does not use radiation
- Since it is non-invasive the risk of infection is lower
- Does not damage healthy tissue like radiation procedures
Your Great Career Begins with an Accredited Sonography Program
There is no doubt the ultrasound imaging field is growing in breadth and depth. This means those choosing Diagnostic Medical Sonography as their profession can pursue any of a number of career avenues that will utilize the latest technology. The first step is to choose one of the top CAAHEP accredited sonography programs because these programs offer clinical training in state-of-the-art facilities.
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