A condensed history of Ultrasound
The history of ultrasound can be traced to Lazzaro Spallanzani. In 1790 he experimented with bats and found that they maneuvered through the air using their hearing rather than sight.
In 1801, physicist Thomas Young worked with light and found that light waves can be shifted so two beams can either combine to become stronger or cancel each other out.
Jean-Daniel Colladon a Swiss physicist/engineer discovered sonography with an underwater bell in 1826. He accurately determined the speed of sound through water.
In 1881,Pierre Curie found a connection between electrical voltage and pressure on crystalline material. This was the breakthrough that was needed to create the modern ultrasound transducer.
After the sinking of the Titanic, Paul Langevin invented the hydrophone to detect icebergs. This was the first transducer. A device that was able to send and then receive low frequency sound waves. The hydrophone was later used to detect submarines in world war I. This was a major step in the history of ultrasound.
Dr. Karl Dussik an Austrian psychiatrist was first to use ultrasound pictures in an attempt to diagnose brain tumors in the late 1930's. The procedure was called "hyperphonography". He used heat sensitive paper to record echos. Ultrasound imaging got its start.
Dr. George Luwig University of Pennsylvania in the late 1940's, was first to record and study the difference in sound waves as they traveled through tissues, organs, muscles, and gallstones in animals. This was a major step forward in the history of ultrasound.
Scottish professor Ian Donald, University of Glasgow, invented and improved on many devices used in pregnancy and fetal development. During World War II, he became interested in radar and sonar. He became known in the 1950's when a woman with a diagnosis of inoperable stomach cancer came to his attention. He studied the case with his new equipment and found that she had an ovarian cyst, which was safely removed. He became the father of obstetric ultrasound. He also invented the B-mode scanner. He was able to detect a twin pregnancy.
In the 1950's and 60's Douglas Howry and Joseph Holmes improved the B-mode scanner. Up until then, the patient had to be submerged in water to produce images. They invented a transducer that was put in direct contact with the patient. This was the start of ultrasound pictures as we know them today.
Dr.John Wild and John Reid modified standard medical imaging equipment and produced a hand held B-mode instrument that could swing side to side and get cross views from various angles to detect breast tumors. This type of unit was the forerunner of the modern machines used today as they produced the first breast ultrasound. They also invented an A-mode scanner for the detection of ovarian cancer.
The future is now. By allowing the sound waves to pass completely through the breast, the images are not clouded by dense breast tissue. A second wave is transmitted simultaneously to create a 3D hologram. The resulting images of Hologram ultrasound technology offer fine details that are missed with todays 4D ultrasound. In a normal MRI or ultrasound screen, we cannot visualize some early markers of breast cancer such as calcifications. See what is new in
This is a brief time line of some of the major events in the history of ultrasound that have evolved into the technology we we have today. We have to offer our apologies to many of the key people that we have overlooked, who have had a hand in these discoveries. We have only scratched the surface by covering events that we consider major breakthroughs. There were many contributions made by others. Feel free to click on the links and read a more in depth version of each persons story of how we have been able to produce pregnancy ultrasound images.
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