The wonderful World of Ultra-Sound Machines

You learn something new every day in my line of work and today was no exception. We’re all no doubt familiar with ultrasound machines (no jokes about Mancunians, please!) as they’re a common feature in any modern hospital, used primarily as a very quick way to look inside the human body in real-time.

The potential for ultrasonic imaging was first recorded as being recognized by Sokolov in 1939, but techniques of the time produced relatively low-contrast images with poor sensitivity. Ultrasonic imaging, on the other hand, uses frequencies of 2 megahertz and higher meaning the shorter wavelength allows resolution of smaller internal details in tissues.

An example of an image taken by a medical ultra-sound machine

Ultrasound machines use sound waves with frequencies higher than the upper audible limit of human hearing. According to Wikipedia, “ultrasound is not different from ’normal’ (or audible) sound in its physical properties, except that humans cannot hear it. This limit varies from person to person and is approximately 20 kilohertz (20,000 hertz) in healthy young adults. Ultrasound devices operate with frequencies from 20 kHz up to several gigahertz. Ultrasound is used in many different fields. Ultrasonic devices are used to detect objects and measure distances. Ultrasound imaging or sonography is often used in medicine. In the non-destructive testing of products and structures, ultrasound is used to detect invisible flaws. Industrially, ultrasound is used for cleaning, mixing, and accelerating chemical processes. Animals such as bats and porpoises use ultrasound for locating prey and obstacles. Scientists are also studying ultrasound using graphene diaphragms as a method of communication.

If you own or use a modern medical ultra-sound machine it’s likely that it’ll breakdown at some point or other and you’ll need to get it repaired. For such complex and valuable machines, probe repair obviously needs to be carried out by experts – one of which is a company called PRS which is based in Lyon, France (a beautiful city I’m very familiar with) who specialise in GE Ultrasound Probes