If you’re at all interested in sonographic technology, you know there are numerous reports of ultrasound devices becoming smaller, more portable and mobile. That’s not so different from the evolution of the computer, which originally took up the space of a whole room.
Portable ultrasound technology is, naturally, extremely important—simply put, it extends the scope of when and where ultrasounds can be performed.
But there are continuous advancements in a variety of other aspects of sonography equipment and capabilities too.
Here are just a few examples of what’s new in the world of ultrasound technology.
Robotics expert, Dr. Hugo Guterman of Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel has led a team, of members from his university and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, to create a device that makes insertion of central lines more efficient.
Central lines, also known as central venous catheters, are inserted so fluids, medications, blood and other vital products can be administered to seriously ill patients. It is difficult for medical staff to insert central lines, reports The Economist (April 11, 2015): one study by Stanford University at a children’s hospital found that 50 percent of the time, practitioners could not successfully insert a catheter on the first attempt. Another finding, according to The Economist states that up to 30% patients suffer complications, from a punctured artery to cardiac arrest, due to failed insertion attempts.
In the United States, it is projected that the ultrasound equipment market will reach more than $2 Billion by 2020.
Dr. Guterman and his team’s prototype, operated via a joystick, “uses ultrasound, machine vision and a robotic needle-dispenser to make placing a central venous catheter a push-button affair,” describes The Economist; the device potentially cuts the average insertion time from eight minutes to two minutes.
OxSonics is an Oxford UK company that was established in 2013 to “further develop and commercialise some of the most innovative and ground-breaking advancements made from within the BUBBL research group,” states its website. (BUBBL, based at Oxford University, stands for Biomedical Ultrasonics, Biotherapy and Biopharmaceuticals Laboratory.)
Chemotherapy drugs have difficulty penetrating the center of solid tumors. One of the innovations OxSonics has developed is its SonoTran, a specialized ultrasound technology that helps chemo drugs access those types of tumors.
“The trick is to mix the drug with sound-sensitive particles,” MoneyWeek’s David Thornton says, explaining OxSonics’ innovation. “These particles respond to the ultrasound waves by expanding and contracting, rather like bubbles forming and then collapsing. It’s this collapsing of the bubble that creates the pumping action and forces the drug into the tumour.”
While not a medical application, here’s a neat example of how ultrasound is employed in another technological sector.
Scanning your eye to unlock a door or voice recognition during an FBI investigation are examples of biometrics at work.
Some technology companies are developing biometric applications to replace passwords, such as those used on your mobile devices. For example, Qualcomm has developed its Snapdragon Sense ID 3D fingerprint technology. It is the “mobile industry’s first comprehensive biometrics authentication solution based on ultrasonic technology,” states the company’s website.
Because the technology is employed, a specific, three-dimensional fingerprint can be recognized in various states—i.e. whether it’s hot or cold, dry or greasy, notes CNET—and through various materials like “cover glass, sapphire or other [smartphone] material,” notes INVESTORS.com.