Sonography : The future of radiology
Sonography is fast becoming the future of radiology. Developed in the seventies and eighties this cheap and radiation less modaity is changing the shape of medical imaging. Sonography is also a cheap and easy way of imaging as opposed to computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.
Sonography has been fast developed to deal with a number of aspects of medical imaging. Areas that sonography is commonly employed include obstetrics and gynecology, vascular imaging, musculo-skeletal imaging and general imaging which include cardiac, abdominal and nero-imaging.
Sonography has become the modality of choice in obstetrics as there is no radiation risk to the foetus as opposed to using methods like plain x-ray imaging and computed tomography. Oblique plain x-rays of the mother’s abdomen used to be taken before the advent of ultrasound in the late stages of pregnanc
Ergonomically machines are being engineered to meet the requirements of the operator, as time goes on, and the demand for the technology increases. Imaging resolution has also increased quite considerably over a number of years. A few years ago 3 D and 4 D ultrasound was developed, and this has proved to be quite useful to look at babies in the womb. Most centres do this purely as entertainment for new parents.
The world is experiencing a vast shortage of sonographers as there are limited training opportunities. Currently in the United Kingdom there are a number of professionals such as doctors, midwives, physiotherapists and radiographers who can study the ultrasound course, as long as they have an institution to do the practical training. The course is generally run over a two year period with experience in general and obstetric ultrasound. Technicians can further their training by doing advanced courses in musculoskeletal and vascular imaging.
Ultrasound has been very helpful to the medical team although it does have limitations. This includes imaging of areas such as chest, stomach and any air cavity. Computed tomography is the preferred imaging choice for these modalities. Certain pathologies can be seen very clearly on ultrasound and where mammography falls short ultrasound can be used as a dual imaging modality to view the breast. Guided biopsies can also be done under the presence of ultrasound for areas such as breast and liver.
Ultrasound has become the modality of choice in a short space of time. There is also a lot of money in this modality as the cost to set up one’s own business is relatively cheap as compared to setting up a radiology practise that does plain x-rays or computed tomography.