The history of ultrasound dates back a lot further than you may think, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras began investigating the science of sound long before ultrasound had any use in the medical field. 

This blog aims to fill in the history between for you! 

The First Experiments Surrounding Ultrasounds

The experiments of the Italian Lazzaro Spallanzani in 1793 laid the foundations for the future of ultrasound technology. He caught wild bats and studied how they could fly around completely normally with both the light of a candle and without. He then covered their eyes and found they could still fly normally. This confused him and he believed their eyes must not be properly covered, so he cut out their eyes. However, the bats still flew normally. After some pretty gruesome experiments on the bats in which he took away a different sense and used trial and error to deduce which sense the bats needed for navigation, he found it was their hearing. 

Slightly later Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, invented the Galton whistle which can emit sounds in the ultrasound range. This allowed him to understand different species and ages of humans and could hear different sound frequencies.

During the first world war efforts were made to investigate ultrasound further in an attempt to be able to locate German submarines, advancements were made with this in world war two, using prior knowledge of tomography computerised axial tomography was achieved and also known as CT scan.

Ultrasound as a diagnostic tool

George Ludwig at the Naval Medical Research Institute first used ultrasound as a diagnostic tool to locate foreign objects in tissue. He found the reflection of ultrasound waves from human tissue to foreign objects had a different frequency meaning they could be pinpointed within the body. He also discovered the depth at which any foreign object could be by via the distance of the echo from the initial pulse. This meant shrapnel could be located easier without trial and error type operations, and patients had a higher survival rate. 

This research occurred just after world war two, so the inspiration for the work on aiding the survival of soldiers with shrapnel-related injuries is clear. To learn more about Ludwig’s work please click here. 

Another key figure in the eventual use of ultrasounds in the medical field is Ian Donald, he created the first 2D ultrasound machine called the Diasonograph. This led the path for Tom Brown in the 1970s to develop 3D ultrasounds called the multiplanar scanner, this technology is still used today!

Duality Health Limited Private Ultrasounds 

At Duality Health Limited we offer private ultrasounds with the state-of-the-art Canon Aplio which is capable of fibroscans of the liver and is essential in spotting early signs of liver damage without having to resort to liver biopsy. To book a liver ultrasound please click here, and if you have any questions regarding ultrasound diagnostics please call us on               028 3083 3666.