Monday, 26 January 2015

Ultrasound - Not Just Babies!

  An ultrasound scan for the thyroid gland.

Stardate: 92672.31

Last week saw me in the hospital's various ultrasound departments: general, obstetric, paediatric and vascular. Despite my initial reservations and disinterest in ultrasound, I actually really enjoyed my week there. At first, I tried to read up on basic anatomical appearances, and how ultrasound images were produced, including the physics and which transducers (probes) were used for which examinations etc. But I'm going to leave that for another post... 

From my basic understanding, I started to get the hang of it all, and could get my head around what position the transducer was in when I observed examinations. I even got to have a go in some departments, where I managed to scan a kidney, my own thyroid gland, and finally an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).

In the general department, the examinations are mainly musculoskeletal and some gynaecological procedures. Obstetric is the most famous ultrasound department, as it's where a multitude of women go for their pregnancy dating, 12-week and 20-week scans. Usually the 20-week scan is an anatomy check, as well as to check the sex of the baby (if the parents want to know what they're having). Paediatric is of course the children's department of ultrasound. And finally, Vascular is where all the circulatory system investigations occur.

Anatomy on ultrasound scans takes a little bit longer to get your head around than general x-ray anatomy, but once you've witnessed a few scans, you start to recognise certain structures and their appearances. If I do take anything away with me from my week, it is that fluid always look black and veins, in comparison to arteries, are compressible. Which is how sonographers test for DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).

As ultrasound has such a wide range of examinations and procedures, I couldn't really pinpoint one I wanted to talk about in detail that would fit into this post nicely, so I'll possibly put one up soon after some serious consideration! There were plenty I witnessed where I wouldn't mind looking further into them.

Out of all the departments I visited, the most interesting I found to be was Vascular, but each department has its own intrigue. Being placed in ultrasound has certainly changed my attitude towards the modality, and I actually wouldn't mind going there again. Some students find it boring, but if you ask plenty of questions and try to look into image production and anatomy before you go, there's less chance you'll be confused, and will be able to identify what you're actually looking at!

This week I'm in A&E, but I'm working alongside the first-years, so now I have to look like I actually know what I'm doing! I've also started my radiography assistant job, so you may start seeing posts about doing part-time work alongside the course cropping up!

LLAP guys!

  1. Diagnostic Ultrasound Scan, n.d. photograph, viewed 25 January 2015 <>.


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