You Are Not Your Shoulder Ultrasound: An Introduction
Ultrasound is one of the most popular medical imaging techniques used today. It provides doctors with a quick and accurate way to look inside your body. However, it can also cause discomfort or even pain if done incorrectly. A common misconception is that all ultrasound images are created equal, which they aren’t! There are many different types of ultrasound scans available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
In general, there are two main types of ultrasound scan: Doppler (or sonobuoy) and linear (or transducer). Each type has its pros and cons. These differences are often not immediately apparent when looking at a picture, but when taking a closer look into the details they make a big difference in how well an image will perform in real life.
The Doppler technique uses sound waves to create images of your body’s movement. This type of ultrasound is usually performed using a Doppler radar, which measures the speed of the moving object. When you move your arm, the radar sends out a signal that bounces off nearby objects and returns back to the scanner where it is analyzed. The return frequency determines what part of your body was being measured. An example of this process in action would be the change in pitch of a train’s horn as it approaches and then moves away from you.
This technique allows doctors to easily spot problems with blood flow, which can indicate damage to major arteries or veins.
While there are many benefits to Doppler ultrasound, the main advantage is its ability to produce an image of real-time movement. This makes it especially useful for diagnosing blood flow problems related to clots, atherosclerosis, and more. Doppler can also detect the presence of foreign bodies in an artery or vein, which is how it serves as an effective way to check for blood clots. These foreign bodies can cause the body’s circulatory system to shut down and stop pumping blood through the body. If a clot should break away from the main strand, this could be potentially fatal.
Another advantage is that this technique doesn’t use excessive amounts of radiation, which means it’s safe for the patient and doctor alike. It’s also more cost-effective than other types of scanning.
The only major disadvantage to Doppler is its inability to provide a detailed image. This means that problems might be detected, but it’s difficult to tell exactly where they are or how severe the problem is.
Overall, Doppler is an excellent medical imaging technique for checking blood flow and uncovering clots or other problems with the heart.
The linear technique uses a transducer (a specialized ultrasound scanner) to create 2D and 3D images of a patient’s body. This type of scan uses reflected sound waves to produce detailed visualizations of the inside of the human body. Using this technique, doctors can examine blood flow and any potential issues that may be causing clots or blockages. The results of the scan are given in a visual format that can be interpreted with ease by an expert. An example of this would be a 3D image of your heart and its various chambers.
One major advantage of linear scanning is the ability to use the transducer to examine blood vessels in fine detail. This can be used to assess the progress of clots and other issues with blood vessels that may cause problems in the future.
The major disadvantage is the high level of radiation that is used during the scanning process. It’s very dangerous for both the patient and the physician, making it difficult to perform this procedure on a regular basis. This is one of the reasons why doctors are reluctant to use this method as much as others.
Despite the high amounts of radiation, this technique can be used to get a clear image of certain problem areas, making it an excellent option for creating a detailed visual picture.
Doppler vs Linear
Both Doppler and linear scanning produce visual images of a patient’s body through the use of sound waves. The major difference between the two is in how they analyze these waves to create their results.
While Doppler ultrasound uses reflected sound waves to produce a real-time image of blood flow and other issues with blood vessels, linear uses them to create 2D and 3D renderings. The use of transducers makes it possible to see a 3D rendering of the heart chambers and the exact position of veins, arteries, and other elements within the circulatory system. This makes it easier to notice clots, blood flow issues, and other problems.
Doppler ultrasound is able to provide real-time images of the blood flow within the arteries and veins, which can help to detect potential issues with the heart, clots, blockages, and other problems. Linear ultrasound gives a more detailed view of the overall circulatory system and blood vessels as a whole. Using this method, it’s easy to see potential problems with the heart and other organs even if they aren’t producing immediate symptoms.
Neither of these techniques is superior to the other, and it really comes down to personal preference when deciding which one is a better option for diagnosing potential medical conditions. Some people prefer the instant gratification of doppler while others would rather see a 3D rendering of the heart and its chambers.
In most cases, linear ultrasound is used as a secondary test to doppler. While doppler is generally used to detect potential issues in an emergency, linear is used to give the medical professional a thorough look at the circulatory system beyond what doppler provides.
What to Expect
While the tools involved in the procedure are sterile and painless, the procedure itself can be a bit uncomfortable at times.
As always, you should ask your physician about any medications that can be taken prior to the procedure to reduce any potential discomfort. For most people, this isn’t necessary, but it never hurts to ask if something can be done to make the process easier.
Sources & references used in this article:
Ultrasound therapy for calcific tendinitis of the shoulder by GR Ebenbichler, CB Erdogmus, KL Resch… – … England Journal of …, 1999 – Mass Medical Soc
Ultrasound and operative evaluation of arthritic shoulder joints by E Alasaarela, J Leppilahti, M Hakala – Annals of the rheumatic …, 1998 – ard.bmj.com
Comparison of 2-and 3-dimensional shoulder ultrasound to magnetic resonance imaging in a community hospital for the detection of supraspinatus rotator cuff tears … by S Co, S Bhalla, K Rowan… – Canadian …, 2012 – journals.sagepub.com