Is modern diagnostic ultrasound safe?

Author(s): Professor Gail ter Haar

Hospital: The Institute of Cancer Research

Reference: RAD Magazine, 42, 492, 23-24


Gone are the days when an ultrasound scan was simply a choice of an anatomical B-mode image or a Doppler examination for studying blood flow. The number of scanning modes, and the range of information that can be gleaned from them has increased significantly. Diagnostic ultrasound can not only provide anatomical images, but now gives functional information. It is also now used for the targeting and monitoring of treatments.

From a safety viewpoint, the different imaging modes can be broadly divided into B-mode, harmonic imaging, Doppler, scans involving ultrasound contrast agents, and elastography. Additionally, its applications can be roughly categorised as obstetric and neonatal (which in general give the most reason for vigilance about safety), and adult, where safety concerns are usually lower.

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