When Did Ultrasounds Come Out – If you have children, there is a good chance that you first saw them on a “sonogram” taken before they were born. Sketching is so common that it has become a rite of passage for parents all over the world. This is the story of how they formed.
In the summer of 1955, D. Ian Donald, professor of midwifery at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, was invited to visit Babcock & Wilcox, a company making boilers for the urban shipbuilding industry. It wasn’t the sort of tour that would normally attract a birth doctor, but Donald wanted to see the company’s “industrial defect detector,” a device used to check for cracks in the welds holding steel boilers together.
When Did Ultrasounds Come Out
The Industrial Flaw Detector is an evolution of the peacetime sonar technology that was used during World War II to detect enemy submarines. Sonar-equipped battleships send bursts of sonic energy into the water in the form of “pings”. If the submarine hides under the waves, the ping will hit the hard surface of the submarine and echo off the battleship. Echo analysis will (hopefully) reveal the location of the submarine so it can be attacked and sunk.
Week Ultrasound: What To Expect
The industrial flaw detector used by B&W works in much the same way, bouncing ultrasonic waves off steel welds. The received echoes are analyzed to see if they reveal invisible defects in the weld.
Dr. Donald wondered if this technology could be used to see things hidden inside the human body. The demonstration during the tour was encouraging, so Donald re-invited the boiler maker. This time, he brought a set of cysts, tumors, and other medical samples for analysis; B&W gave him a piece of steak that he could use as a control sample of healthy tissue free of tumors or cysts. The results “exceeded my wildest expectations,” Donald recalls 20 years later. “I see endless possibilities in the coming years.”
Donald saw an opportunity, but his teammates couldn’t. He has long been given the nickname “Mad Donald” due to his fascination with gadgets and his attempts to put them on the cure. Although he had some success, including a device that helped newborns try to take their first breath, the idea of delivering tumors and cysts to shipyard boiler makers everywhere did not contribute in the least to his professional reputation.
Donald is not the only one interested in ultrasound: researchers in Europe, Japan and the US are also experimenting with it, and their research is starting to appear in medical journals. But if Donald’s colleagues know about it, it doesn’t matter. When he borrowed an old flaw detector from a London neurologist who tried (and failed) to scan the human brain from the outside of the skull, all he did was give another doctor a chance to come into his office and laugh at his experiments live. .
What Is An Ultrasound Machine And How Does It Work?
In fairness, it should be noted that in those early days, the experiments were quite interesting. The only way he could get his flaw detector to work was to smear the bottom of a plastic bucket with petroleum jelly and place it on the patient’s stomach, then fill the bucket with water and dip the ultrasonic probe into it. Often the only result is that water is spilled on the patient, the doctor, and the floor, forcing Donald to start over—provided the patient is willing to risk getting wet a second time.
These early results were so disappointing that Donald could have ended his research on the spot if some electricians from the flaw detector company Kelvin & Hughes had not installed a light in a nearby operating room. When the electricians saw him scanning a patient with an ancient detector, they told Tom Brown, a 23-year-old Kelvin & Hughes engineer who worked in the flaw detection department, about the ridiculous sight. Curious, Brown saw Mad Donald in the phone book, called him and asked if he could come into his office to take a look. The doctor agreed, and Brown soon noticed that not only was Donald’s flaw detector outdated and obsolete, but had been modified in such a way that it was completely useless. He made several calls to his boss at Kelvin & Hughes, and soon a new, state-of-the-art flaw detector arrived at Donald’s office.
With the new machine, there is no longer a need to balance a bucket of water on the patient’s stomach: all Donald has to do is lubricate the patient’s stomach with olive oil and perform an ultrasound of the area. Sound waves penetrate the body, and the resulting echo appears as electrical impulses on the screen of an instrument called an oscilloscope.
Donald had long suspected that a fluid-filled cyst would have a different ultrasound “sign” compared to a tumor, which is a solid mass of tissue. His earliest experiments with boiler builders suggested this, and now new equipment confirms it. Once again, however, his colleagues rejected his findings. The professor of surgery then asked him to examine one of his hopeless cases, a woman dying of inoperable stomach cancer.
Ultrasound Scans: How Do They Work?
Donald smeared the woman’s very swollen belly with olive oil and conducted a survey of the area. It takes only a few movements: instead of obtaining indications corresponding to a cancerous tumor, industrial flaw detectors reveal pockets of fluid with clear edges characteristic of cysts. The “dying” woman did not die at all. She also had no cancer, and after Donald operated on and removed what was correctly diagnosed as a benign ovarian cyst, she made a full recovery.
Crazy Donald suddenly stopped looking so angry. His stupid shipbuilding invention is no longer a shame to hide. Soon every doctor has a difficult patient they want to scan. “Once we got rid of the behind-the-scenes approach and completely moved our equipment to the department with an inexhaustible supply of living patients with interesting clinical problems, we were able to progress very quickly,” Donald recalls years later. “From now on, there is no going back.”
While the new engine is an improvement over the one that was replaced, there’s still a lot to be desired. When Donald scans a patient, all he sees on the oscilloscope are squiggly lines. He distinguished one wavy line from another to distinguish a tumor from a cyst, and that was enough for him. But Tom Brown, a young engineer at Kelvin & Hughes, thought he could build something better. By the end of 1957, he had completed work on an improved machine that tracked where the probe was on the patient’s body and displayed the echo on the oscilloscope screen accordingly. In the process, he invented the first ultrasound scanner capable of producing images—sonograms, as they came to be called—instead of wavy lines. (Money was so low that he actually built the machine using a borrowed hospital bed table and parts taken from an Erector kit.)
By the summer of 1958, Donald, Brown, and a third researcher named John McVicar had scanned over 100 people. They published their findings in the British Medical Journal.
Pregnancy, Dads & The 20 Week Scan
, along with the most familiar sonogram image of a human fetus in the womb. Believe it or not, researchers discovered the ability of ultrasound to create these images by accident when they scanned a woman with a suspected tumor in her uterus, a condition that can cause bloating. It wasn’t until the baby’s head appeared on screen that they realized the bloating was caused by a much more common medical condition: pregnancy.
But is it safe to bombard a fetus with ultrasonic waves? Donald, Brown, and McVicar didn’t see why not, but they needed to make sure, so they cranked the engine up to over 30 times the amount of power needed to create the image and bombarded four sedated kittens for an hour. When the kittens survived unscathed, the researchers were relieved to conclude that it was safe to use ultrasound on pregnant women. In the process, an entirely new field of prenatal medical imaging was born, which, unlike x-rays, provides images of soft tissue, not just bone, and poses no risk to mother and baby.
If you’ve ever tried to pick a fetus from the grainy gray mishmash of modern sonograms, you can imagine how difficult it was to find it in the images produced by those early primitive machines. Even more difficult is the task of convincing obstetricians, gynecologists and other professionals of the usefulness of such images. These professionals are always under observation, touch and lots of guesswork when they go about their profession. In the past, they never needed ultrasound images, so why would they
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