History of Ultrasound – Overview of Sonography History and Discovery (2022)

An Overview of Ultrasound History and Discovery

The technology used in medical ultrasound is continuously evolving and currently contributing to important improvments in patient diagnosis and treatment. The science and technologies employed in sonography have a long and interesting history. This story begins with the women and men (and yes animals) from across the world who have contributed to the evolution of ultrasound over the past 225+ years.

Let’s take a look back at the history of ultrasound and learn how the use of sound waves as a diagnostic tool made their way into clinics and hospitals across the globe.

Echolocation and Ultrasound’s Early Beginnings

History of Ultrasound – Overview of Sonography History and Discovery (1)

Lazzaro Spallanzani

(Video) The History of Sonography

Many ask, who invented the ultrasound?Italian biologist,Lazzaro Spallanzani is most often credited personfor discovering ultrasonography.

Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799) was a physiologist, professor and priest who carried out numerous experiments that led to great insights in human and animal biology.

In 1794Spallanzani performed studies on bats that concluded that they could navigate using sound rather than sight. This is now known as echolocation where locations are determined or identified through sound waves being reflected or bounced back from objects in an environment. These same principles are how medical ultrasound technology functions today.

RELATED: 7 Female Pioneers in Medical Imaging

Ultrasound is characterized as sound waves with a frequency higher than what is audible to the human ear. “The first detailed experiments that indicated that non-audible sound might exist were performed on bats by Lazzaro Spallanzani,” states D. Kane, W. Grassi, R. Sturrock, P. V. Balint; A brief history of musculoskeletal ultrasound: ‘From bats and ships to babies and hips’, Rheumatology, Volume 43, Issue 7, 1 July 2004.

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(Video) History of Ultrasound

What is Echolocation?

We can find several additional examples of echolocation in nature. Echolocation pulses are short bursts of sound at frequencies that span from about 1,000 hertz in birds to at more than 200,000 hertz in whales.

Early Experiments in Ultrasound

Gerald Neuweiler, in his book The Biology of Bats, describes how Spallanzani brought owls into his lab and observed that they would not fly around the room if there was no source of light. “When he repeated the same experiment using bats, these small mammals flew confidently around the bishop’s study, even in total darkness, managing to avoid the wires that Spallanzani had hung from the ceiling,” wrote Neuweiler.

Neuweiler adds that the Italian scientist even blinded the bats by burning them with a “red-hot needle” and still they were able to avoid the wires. Spallanzani knew this because bells were attached to the ends of the wires.

(Video) Lecture 1: A Brief History of Ultrasound

The physiologist gained insight that the bats were relying on the sense of sound for navigation because when he placed closed brass tubes inside the mammals’ ears, they could not navigate the room properly and would fly into the wires.

Although he did not know that the bats were emitting their own sound for orientation, sound higher than he or any human would be able to hear, Spallanzani was able to conclude that the creatures were using their ears to navigate their environment.

Medicine Benefits fromDevelopments in Ultrasound

As time passed, others continued to build on Spallanzani’s work. It was in 1942 thatNeurologist Karl Dussik is credited with being the first to use ultrasonic waves as a diagnostic tool. He transmitted an ultrasound beam through the human skull in attempts of detecting brain tumors. This is still very early in the history of diagnostic medical sonography, but it was clear that this noninvasive technology had tremendous possibility.

Ultrasound technology and its application in healthcare have continued to mature. The advancement of tools and refinement of procedures are happening everyday. Most recently, smaller portable scanners have become more widespread, and have helped further integrate the use of ultrasound in more areas and stages of patient care.

(Video) A Brief History of Ultrasound Technology

It was truly an honor to interview Joan P. Baker MSR, RDMS, RDCS, FSDMS. Originally from England, Baker was invited to the United States in the 1960s – due to her sonography passion and practice – and she’s been here ever since.

Ultrasound History Timeline

Here’s a look back at some of the key milestones in the development and history of ultrasound technology.

DateHistorical Achievement or Event
1794Physiologist Lazzaro Spallanzani was the first to study echolocation among bats, which forms the basis for ultrasound physics.
1877Brothers Pierre and Jacques Currie discover piezoelectricity. Ultrasound transducers (probes) emit and receive sound waves by way of the piezoelectric effect.
1915Inspired by the sinking of the Titanic, Physicist Paul Langevinwas commissioned to invent a device that detected objects at the bottom of the sea. Laugevin invented a hydrophone – what the World Congress Ultrasound in Medical Education refers to as the “first transducer”.
1920s-1940sSonography was used to treat members of European soccer teams as a form of physical therapy, to appease arthritic pain and eczema and to sterilize vaccines, states Joan Baker who holds several ARDMS ultrasound certifications.
1942Neurologist Karl Dussik is credited with being the first to use sonography for medical diagnoses. He transmitted an ultrasound beam through the human skull in attempts of detecting brain tumors.
1948George D. Ludwig, M.D., an Internist at the Naval Medical Research Institute, developed A-mode ultrasound equipment to detect gallstones.
1949-1951Douglas Howry and Joseph Holmes, from the University of Colorado, were some of the leading pioneers of B-mode ultrasound equipment, including the 2D B-mode linear compound scanner. John Reid and John Wild invented a handheld B-mode device to detect breast tumors.
1953Physician Inge Edler and Engineer C. Hellmuth Hertz performed the first successful echocardiogram by employing an echo test control device from a Siemens shipyard.
1958Dr. Ian Donald incorporated ultrasound into the OB/GYN field of medicine.
1966Don Baker, Dennis Watkins, and John Reid designed pulsed Doppler ultrasound technology; their developments led to imaging blood flow in various layers of the heart.
1970sThe 1970s saw many developments including the continuous wave Doppler, spectral wave Doppler and color Doppler ultrasound instruments.
1980sKazunori Baba of the University of Tokyo developed 3D ultrasound technology and captured three-dimensional images of a fetus in 1986.
1989Professor Daniel Lichtenstein began incorporating lung and general sonography in intensive care units.
1990sStarting in the 1980s, ultrasound technology became more sophisticated with improved image quality and 3D imaging capabilities. These improvements continued into the 1990s with the adoption of 4D (real time) capabilities. Ultrasound guided biopsies (endoscopic ultrasounds) also began in the 1990s.
2000s – presentJust like personal communication devices are continuously evolving and becoming more convenient, so are ultrasound technologies. A variety of compact, handheld devices have come onto the market in recent years. The iPhone now has a telesonography app and NASA has developed a virtual guidance program for non-sonographers to perform ultrasounds in space.

History of Sonography in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

In our current culture, ultrasounds might best known for their use during pregnancy to produce a sonogram, a visual image produced from an ultrasound examination. Within the larger ultrasound family of specializations,Obstetrics and Gynaecology have seen some important historical moments as well. You’ll find some of the more notable developments in the OB/GYN specialization below.

DateHistorical Event
1958This year marked the publication of the first paper in Obstetric Ultrasound “Investigation Of Abdominal Masses By Pulsed Ultrasound” by Ian Donald, M.B.E., B.A. Cape Town, M.D. Lond., F.R.F.P.S., F.R.C.O.G. J Macvicar, M.B. Glasg., M.R.C.O.G. T.G Brown. This study marked the first ultrasound image of a fetal head.
1962 – late 1960’sGeorge Kossoff of Australia engineers the Octason static scanner. The Octason mark 2 images allow us to see detailed fetal anatomy, and marks an important time in the development of ultrasound.
1970’sAdvancements in sonography equipment and techniques progressed throughout the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s. Methods to determine the fetal biometry and fetal abnormalities continued to advance and be refined with the adaption and replacement of various techniques.
1983Sam Maslak develops a machine that sets new standards in both spatial and contrast resolution.

If you would like to become a part of this evolving field, you can complete a degree at one of the numerous ultrasound schools across the country.

FAQs

How was Sonography discovered? ›

Karl Dussik was the first to use sonogram for medical diagnosis in 1942. This was done by transmitting an ultrasound beam through the skull of a human in order to detect brain tumors. Another discovery came in 1948 from George D. Ludwig, M.D. when he was an interest at the Naval Medical Research Institute.

When was Sonography invented? ›

When it was invented? Ultrasound was first used for clinical purposes in 1956 in Glasgow. Obstetrician Ian Donald and engineer Tom Brown developed the first prototype systems based on an instrument used to detect industrial flaws in ships. How running changes your body goes way beyond body recomposition.

Who discovered ultrasound scan? ›

Well, in the year of 1956, ultrasound was first used for medical purposes. Glasgow was the place where it saw its first light. Besides, ultrasound was the brainchild of engineer Tom Brown and Obstetrician Ian Donald. They were the first people who crafted the prototype system.

Who is the father of ultrasound? ›

Ian Donald was an obstetrician who developed ultrasound diagnostics during the twentieth century in Europe. Ultrasound is a medical diagnostic technique that uses sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. During the early 1900s, physicians had no way to see inside a woman's uterus during pregnancy.

What is the history of the ultrasound? ›

The use of ultrasound in medicine began during and shortly after the 2nd World War in various centres around the world. The work of Dr. Karl Theodore Dussik in Austria in 1942 on transmission ultrasound investigation of the brain provides the first published work on medical ultrasonics.

What types of ultrasounds are there? ›

Types of Ultrasound
  • Endoscopic ultrasound.
  • Doppler ultrasound.
  • Color Doppler.
  • Duplex ultrasound.
  • Triplex ultrasound (color-flow imaging)
  • Transvaginal ultrasound.

What is the difference between a sonogram and an ultrasound? ›

The takeaway

Although often used interchangeably, ultrasound is the procedure of using sound waves to create images from inside the body. Sonogram is the image produced by an ultrasound examination.

What is ultrasound used for? ›

Overview. Diagnostic ultrasound, also called sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, is an imaging method that uses sound waves to produce images of structures within your body. The images can provide valuable information for diagnosing and directing treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions.

Who was the first ultrasound technician? ›

The History of Ultrasound

In 1942, Austrian physician Karl Dussik became the first physician to employ ultrasound in medical diagnosis. Dussik transmitted an ultrasound beam through the human skull to detect brain tumors. In the 1950s, real-time ultrasound images were produced.

What are the principles of ultrasound? ›

Ultrasound waves are reflected at the surfaces between the tissues of different density, the reflection being proportional to the difference in impedance. If the difference in density is increased, the proportion of reflected sound is increased, and the proportion of transmitted sound is proportionately decreased.

What is an ultrasound machine called? ›

During an ultrasound, the technologist will send sound waves to the part of the body under examination using a wand-shaped device called a transducer.

Where was the ultrasound scanner invented? ›

The ultrasound scanner was designed and built in Glasgow. It was a collaboration between a number of Scottish pioneers and began with the work of Professor Ian Donald, Dr John McVicar and Tom Brown.

When was ultrasound commonly used? ›

Ultrasounds have been used in medicine since the 1940s, initially for therapeutic purposes and later on for diagnostic purposes. In obstetrics, their use began to show effective results in the 1960s.

When was ultrasound first used in pregnancy? ›

History Of The Ultrasound Scan

Professor Ian Donald at GRMH (Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital) first used ultrasound in diagnostic medicine to determine the diameter of the foetal head in 1956.

When was ultrasound first used in India? ›

When USG machine came to India and became popular in the 1980s, few anti-social elements used the modern innovation to detect the sex of fetuses and abort female fetuses.

What was one of the first uses of ultrasound? ›

In the 1940s, ultrasound was seen as a cure-all. It was used for everything from arthritic pains to gastric ulcers and eczema. Karl Dussik, a neurologist and a psychiatrist at the University of Vienna in Austria, is generally regarded as the first physician to employ ultrasound in medical diagnosis.

How has ultrasound changed over the years? ›

Over the past three decades, ultrasound technology has continued to advance. In the 1980s the first 3D ultrasound technology was introduced, but it wasn't until 1986 that the very first 3D image of a fetus was taken. Later in the 1990s, 4D ultrasound technology, which shows movement, made its debut.

What are the properties of ultrasonic waves? ›

10 Important Properties of Ultrasonic Waves
  • Property 1: Ultrasonic waves vibrate at a frequency greater than the audible range for humans (20 kilohertz).
  • Property 2: They have smaller wavelengths. ...
  • Property 3: They cannot travel through vacuum.
  • Property 4: Ultrasonic waves travel at the speed of sound in the medium.

What are the advantages of ultrasound? ›

Benefits of Ultrasound
  • They are generally painless and do not require needles, injections, or incisions.
  • Patients aren't exposed to ionizing radiation, making the procedure safer than diagnostic techniques such as X-rays and CT scans. ...
  • Ultrasound captures images of soft tissues that don't show up well on X-rays.
20 Sept 2021

What is ultrasound frequency? ›

Ultrasound sound waves have frequencies above those audible to the human ear, that is, greater than approximately 20 MHz. Ultrasound typically used in clinical settings has frequencies between 2 and 12 MHz.

How many modes are there in ultrasound? ›

Four different modes of ultrasound are used in medical imaging (1, 3). These are: A-mode: A-mode is the simplest type of ultrasound. A single transducer scans a line through the body with the echoes plotted on screen as a function of depth.

What is another name for ultrasound? ›

Other names for an ultrasound scan include sonogram or (when imaging the heart) an echocardiogram. The ultrasound machine directs high-frequency sound waves at the internal body structures being examined.

How long does an ultrasound last? ›

How long does an ultrasound take? Generally, an ultrasound examination will take approximately 30 minutes. Some examinations, especially vascular imaging (blood vessel-related), may take longer because of the detailed imaging that is required, and the number and size of the organ or organs being examined.

What is a formal ultrasound? ›

An ultrasound exam - also known as a “sonogram”- is a way to take a picture of your internal organs without using X-rays. Ultrasound uses harmless sound waves that are directed at organs in the body. The sound waves are turned into a picture (or “image”) on a monitor, much like a computer screen.

What equipment is used in ultrasound? ›

Ultrasound machines consist of a computer console, video monitor and an attached transducer. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone. Some exams may use different transducers (with different capabilities) during a single exam.

How ultrasound image is formed? ›

The ultrasound image is produced based on the reflection of the waves off of the body structures. The strength (amplitude) of the sound signal and the time it takes for the wave to travel through the body provide the information necessary to produce an image.

Which waves are used in sonography? ›

Sonography is a medical imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves and their echoes. Since high-frequency sound waves are needed for sonography, ultrasonic waves are used.

When did ultrasound determine gender? ›

Technologies introduced in the 1970s that allowed for identification of fetal sex in utero have become increasingly become more affordable, less technically demanding, and less invasive.

How does 5D ultrasound work? ›

The 5D ultrasound has a volume processing software that gives the image of the baby a higher resolution, greater clarity and shadow tones that provide an amazingly realistic appearance to the features of the fetal face.

Which physician developed the first application of ultrasound for medical purposes? ›

Neurologist Karl Dussik is credited with being the first to use sonography for medical diagnoses. He transmitted an ultrasound beam through the human skull in attempts of detecting brain tumors.

What are the 3 most basic components of the ultrasound machine? ›

Any ultrasound system has three basic components: a transducer, or probe; the processing unit, including the controls; and the display.

Are ultrasounds safe? ›

Does ultrasound have any risks? Ultrasound is safe for you and your baby when done by your health care provider. Because ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation, it's safer than X-rays. Providers have used ultrasound for more than 30 years, and they have not found any dangerous risks.

Was the ultrasound invented in Australia? ›

Working with Kossof, Robinson built Australia's first ultrasound scanner and, in May 1962, recorded Australia's first ultrasound image of a foetus.

Who invented the ultrasound scanner Australia? ›

Dr David Robinson (1939-2010) built Australia's first ultrasound scanner and helped develop greyscale ultrasound scanners. He was President of ASUM (1974-76) and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2002.

When did pregnancy ultrasounds start in Australia? ›

The story of Australian medical ultrasound began 50 years ago with the establishment in 1959 of an Ultrasound Research Section within the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories.

How do you do an obstetric ultrasound? ›

It uses a small probe called a transducer and gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves travel from the probe through the gel into the body. The probe collects the sounds that bounce back. A computer uses those sound waves to create an image.

What type of ultrasound is done for pregnancy? ›

A fetal ultrasound (sonogram) is an imaging technique that uses sound waves to produce images of a fetus in the uterus. Fetal ultrasound images can help your health care provider evaluate your baby's growth and development and monitor your pregnancy.

What are the types of ultrasound examination in the first trimester? ›

There are two main kinds of ultrasound used during pregnancy—transvaginal and transabdominal.

What is OB pregnancy? ›

Obstetrics. An obstetrician specializes in obstetrics, which deals with all aspects of pregnancy, from prenatal care to post-natal care. An obstetrician delivers babies, whereas a gynecologist does not. An obstetrician can also provide therapies to help you get pregnant, such as fertility treatments.

What is B mode in ultrasound? ›

B-Mode is a two-dimensional ultrasound image display composed of bright dots representing the ultrasound echoes. The brightness of each dot is determined by the amplitude of the returned echo signal.

Who was the first ultrasound technician? ›

The History of Ultrasound

In 1942, Austrian physician Karl Dussik became the first physician to employ ultrasound in medical diagnosis. Dussik transmitted an ultrasound beam through the human skull to detect brain tumors. In the 1950s, real-time ultrasound images were produced.

What is the difference between a sonogram and an ultrasound? ›

The takeaway

Although often used interchangeably, ultrasound is the procedure of using sound waves to create images from inside the body. Sonogram is the image produced by an ultrasound examination.

When did ultrasound determine gender? ›

Technologies introduced in the 1970s that allowed for identification of fetal sex in utero have become increasingly become more affordable, less technically demanding, and less invasive.

Where was the ultrasound scanner invented? ›

The ultrasound scanner was designed and built in Glasgow. It was a collaboration between a number of Scottish pioneers and began with the work of Professor Ian Donald, Dr John McVicar and Tom Brown.

What are the principles of ultrasound? ›

Ultrasound waves are reflected at the surfaces between the tissues of different density, the reflection being proportional to the difference in impedance. If the difference in density is increased, the proportion of reflected sound is increased, and the proportion of transmitted sound is proportionately decreased.

What is ultrasound used for? ›

Overview. Diagnostic ultrasound, also called sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, is an imaging method that uses sound waves to produce images of structures within your body. The images can provide valuable information for diagnosing and directing treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions.

What is new in ultrasound technology? ›

The most recent is contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS), an emerging technology used in cardiac and abdominal imaging for decades outside the U.S. The introduction in the 1980s of ultrasound contrast agents utilizing microbubbles paved the way for modern CEUS.

What is another name for ultrasound? ›

Other names for an ultrasound scan include sonogram or (when imaging the heart) an echocardiogram. The ultrasound machine directs high-frequency sound waves at the internal body structures being examined.

How long does an ultrasound last? ›

How long does an ultrasound take? Generally, an ultrasound examination will take approximately 30 minutes. Some examinations, especially vascular imaging (blood vessel-related), may take longer because of the detailed imaging that is required, and the number and size of the organ or organs being examined.

What is a formal ultrasound? ›

An ultrasound exam - also known as a “sonogram”- is a way to take a picture of your internal organs without using X-rays. Ultrasound uses harmless sound waves that are directed at organs in the body. The sound waves are turned into a picture (or “image”) on a monitor, much like a computer screen.

When was ultrasound first used in medicine? ›

Ian Donald introduced the ultrasound in diagnostic and medicine in 1956, when he used the one-dimensional A-mode (amplitude mode) to measure the parietal diameter of the fetal head. Two years later, Donald and Brown presented the ultrasound image of a female genital tumor.

How has ultrasound changed over the years? ›

Over the past three decades, ultrasound technology has continued to advance. In the 1980s the first 3D ultrasound technology was introduced, but it wasn't until 1986 that the very first 3D image of a fetus was taken. Later in the 1990s, 4D ultrasound technology, which shows movement, made its debut.

How do sonographers determine gender? ›

You can find out the sex of your baby during a scan that is performed to check that your baby is healthy. The earliest time we can assess the baby's sex is at 12 weeks gestation/pregnancy: We can tell the sex of the baby at the 12 week scan by assessing the direction of the nub.

When was ultrasound commonly used? ›

Ultrasounds have been used in medicine since the 1940s, initially for therapeutic purposes and later on for diagnostic purposes. In obstetrics, their use began to show effective results in the 1960s.

When was ultrasound first used in India? ›

When USG machine came to India and became popular in the 1980s, few anti-social elements used the modern innovation to detect the sex of fetuses and abort female fetuses.

Which physician developed the first application of ultrasound for medical purposes? ›

Neurologist Karl Dussik is credited with being the first to use sonography for medical diagnoses. He transmitted an ultrasound beam through the human skull in attempts of detecting brain tumors.

Videos

1. History of Ultrasound
(NIRANJAN ULTRASOUND TECHNICAL TRAINING INSTITUTE)
2. History of Ultrasound - 1
(13sonographer)
3. 04 History of Ultrasound: Lecture by Dr. Eric Blackwell on History and Physics
(Jongyeol Kim)
4. General Ultrasound | Sonographer Worksheet Examples
(Sonography Minutes)
5. The History of Ultrasound - That UltraBeer Thing!
(That Thing)
6. Ultrasonic Sound Waves - Introduction and it's History
(Aftertutor)

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