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A New Paradigm for Ultrasound: Disease Treatment

blog-pic-5A NEW PARADIGM FOR ULTRASOUND

Advancements in scientific discovery are often wondrous in cases where “routine” or “everyday technology” is harnessed and transformed beyond its original usage.  While many people are content, if not relieved, when the lights switch on or the ice-maker dispenses, engineers often look beyond the technology of today and toy with the notion “What If…?” or “Why not…?

Thus, you have stories like American engineer Percy Spencer working with radio signal and radar technology developed during World War II.  A melted candy bar in his pocket led to the discovery of microwave heating – the salvation of bachelors, working parents, and college students throughout the world.

HIFU Ultrasound Probe for Prostate Cancer Treatment

HIFU Ultrasound Probe for Prostate Cancer Treatment

Similarly today, groundbreaking new applications for ultrasound technology in disease treatment are being discovered.  Worldwide, those primarily in usage today involve prostate cancer, uterine fibroids and liver cancer, comprising over 80% of recorded procedures.  the impact this emerging use of ultrasound will have is truly amazing.

Current studies and procedures are based on utilizing a property of ultrasound propagation that we have traditionally been concerned with minimizing: Mechanical and Thermal Bioeffects.

Intrepid researchers, however, posed the following questions:

                    What if we intentionally create bioeffects to damage diseased tissues ?

                    What if we increase temperature to improve drug targeting ?

                    What if we disrupt cells to allow for drug transport ?

                    What if we cavitate injected bubbles to target drug or gene delivery ?

…and from the answers to these premises, whole fields are now in development.  These technologies have the potential to impact cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and endocrinal diseases.

blog-pic-2-editedExciting research is advancing in the field of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) technology.  Here, by focusing multiple intersecting beams toward a targeted point of convergence, disease tissue can be precisely eradicated while leaving surrounding healthy tissue unaffected.  As referenced previously, this is ideal in the treatment of small, localized tumorous masses (prostate, liver), but also holds promise for treatment of what are currently considered inoperable brain tumors.

 

 

blog-pic-4-editedAs sonographic professionals, these new technologies should excite you for the promise of greater involvement and advancement in your career field.  For those of you considering an entry into this profession, it represents broader specialization possibilities, and its accompanying success.

Frank Miele, MSEE , President of Pegasus Lectures, Inc.  Frank graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with a triple major in physics, mathematics, and engineering. While at Dartmouth, he was a Proctor Scholar and received citations for academic excellence in comparative literature, atomic physics and quantum mechanics, and real analysis. Frank was a research and design engineer and project leader, designing ultrasound equipment and electronics for more than ten years at Hewlett Packard Company. As a designer of ultrasound, he has lectured across the country to sonographers, physicians, engineers and students on myriad topics.

*** A Special ‘Thank You‘ to Focused Ultrasound Foundation for use of images, statistical and industry research.

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LIMITED BY BODY HABITUS

LIMITED BY BODY HABITUS 

fmieleA couple years back, I presented a lecture to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) Annual Convention titled Ultrasound: Changing the World.  My focus then was on how changes in access to our technology portends revolutionary advancement in patient care to areas of the world that are historically “under-served”.

For the majority of ultrasound studies, , the patient is laying on an exam table.  Recently however, scientists used ultrasound interpretive strategies to interrogate and visualize a much larger “patient”.  Surveying decades of seismic data collected from around the world, researchers noted sound waves traveling unexpectedly faster through specific regions of the Earth’s subsurface.

Speed Error associated with a needle

Speed Error associated with a needle

They were confronted with a phenomenon familiar to most experienced sonographers: speed error.  So, when sound waves are not behaving how we expect, our first step is to reexamine our assumptions, which is what these researchers did as well.

In this case, they concentrated on the medium through which the sound waves were passing. Specifically these were the lower regions of the continental lithosphere called cratons, which extend like roots into Earth’s mantle.  As sound was traveling faster than anticipated, scientist drew the conclusion that density within these formations was higher than their underlying assumptions.  This led them to conclude that cratons must contain diamonds in a higher proportion than previously thought, nearly 1000 times more.

ultrasound-earth-2Sadly, the technology does not exist yet to access these deposits, which lie nearly 100-150 miles below the Earth’s surface. However, it is nice to know that whether you are interrogating an 8000 mile wide planet, or a 160 lb. patient, the principles of physics are the same.  The propagation of sound waves provides valuable information, and your experience and deductive reasoning help you reach the appropriate conclusions.

Frank Miele, MSEE , President of Pegasus Lectures, Inc.  Frank graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with a triple major in physics, mathematics, and engineering. While at Dartmouth, he was a Proctor Scholar and received citations for academic excellence in comparative literature, atomic physics and quantum mechanics, and real analysis. Frank was a research and design engineer and project leader, designing ultrasound equipment and electronics for more than ten years at Hewlett Packard Company. As a designer of ultrasound, he has lectured across the country to sonographers, physicians, engineers and students on myriad topics.

For more details on the research study:

http://news.mit.edu/2018/sound-waves-reveal-diamond-cache-deep-earths-interior-0716

 

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Advancing a Career in Ultrasound: The Case for Cross-Training

ADVANCING A CAREER IN ULTRASOUND: THE CASE FOR CROSS-TRAINING

Harmonic_QCIn feedback from our last blog, we were asked to expand on the compelling need to cross-train in multiple ultrasound specialties in order to advance a career in the diagnostic ultrasound profession.  These requests came in two forms:

  • “I know I ‘ought to’, but do I really ‘need to’ ??? …. I want to have a life, after all.”

So with those thoughts in mind, we Continue reading

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