Military medicine: How ultrasound has its origins in searching for enemy submarines
Medical breakthroughs that began on the battlefield.
This week: Ultrasound
WE ARE familiar with ultrasound used to scan the wombs of pregnant women. Yet it began life as a way of detecting German U-boats during the Second World War.
The Allied forces needed a way to police the movement of enemy submarines. Beaming sound waves into the water and measuring the rate and direction of their echoes proved to be the perfect method. After the war, scientists realised the technology could lead to a revolution in scanning the body as sound waves pass harmlessly through human tissue.
It wasn't until the 1970s that ultrasound moved into mainstream medicine as an ideal method for producing high-resolution images of the body.
Ultrasound is now widely used to check the condition of the heart, blood vessels and major organs, as well as for treating soft tissue injuries such as tendonitis, an inflammation of the thick cord that attaches bone to muscle, usually in the shoulder, wrist, knee or heel.
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