Medical ultrasound technology has come a long way since the first Somascope. Fashioned from a horse trough and converted radar frame, the instrument fascinated readers of Life magazine in 1954. Its developers – a physician, a radiologist and two electrical engineers at the Denver Veterans Affairs Hospital – had obtained 2-D images of a kidney by submerging one of the engineers in a water bath and sending sound waves echoing through his body with a clunky transducer.
Today, of course, ultrasound is an invaluable medical tool. Harmless and noninvasive, its use of sound waves to visualize biological structures that X-rays can’t detect has a wide variety of applications, including cancer, gynecology, cardiology, physical therapy and vascular medicine. In the six decades since the debut of the Somascope, sonography has drastically improved through both advances in electronics and piezoelectric materials and the integration of Doppler ultrasound, with increasingly sophisticated imaging technology and exponentially faster processing power.
Still, modern ultrasound isn’t perfect. It’s expensive and places large demands on power supplies. Instruments generate interfering noise and produce vast amounts of data that result in less-than-precise images. That’s why our company continues to help make innovative improvements to the technology.