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Blog: How Ultrasounds Have Changed Over the Years

How Ultrasounds Have Changed Over the Years

Ultrasound may be best known for its use during pregnancy to monitor the health of both the mother and the unborn baby. But advanced ultrasound technology has a lot of other uses in many other areas of medicine — including cardiology.

At Phoenix Heart, our team of skilled cardiologists uses ultrasound imaging to diagnose many cardiovascular issues and to manage ongoing treatment. Here’s what you should know about ultrasounds, beginning with their long history and established safety profile.

Ultrasound: From its roots to today

When you think about how ultrasound works — using soundwaves to create images — it sounds like some sort of space-age technology. But ultrasound has been used in medicine for about 80 years, beginning in the 1940s.

During and after World War II, German physician Dr. Karl Dussik experimented with ultrasound technology for imaging the brain, producing the first ultrasound images in 1947. At that time, he named the technology “hyperphonography.” The name didn’t stick around, but the underlying technology certainly did.

Over the next couple of decades, advanced ultrasound research in the United States, Japan, and Scotland ushered in the next wave of advancements. By the mid-1960s, ultrasound technology was commercialized, making the technology and its benefits widely available throughout the world.

Since then, medical ultrasounds have evolved to include:

  • Real-time imaging
  • Imaging in full color
  • 3D and 4D imaging

Ultrasound devices have also changed, becoming smaller and more portable without sacrificing accuracy or performance.

Ultrasound in cardiology

At Phoenix Heart, our team offers several types of ultrasound imaging exams to provide an in-depth, comprehensive “picture” of a patient’s cardiovascular health. 


Echocardiograms use ultrasound technology to examine your heart’s structure and to observe the heart’s function in real time. 

Stress echocardiograms

Also called an echo stress test, stress echocardiograms evaluate your heart’s structure and function during physical activity.

Bubble echocardiograms

Bubble echocardiograms use ultrasounds to evaluate the heart’s structure and function following injection with a saline solution. Tiny bubbles in the saline help your doctor identify problems with blood flow inside the heart.

Arterial ultrasounds

Arterial ultrasounds use sound waves to measure how well blood is flowing through specific arteries, like the arteries in your legs (for peripheral artery disease or PAD).

Carotid ultrasounds

Carotid ultrasounds evaluate blood flow in the major arteries that supply blood to your brain. These ultrasounds are typically used to assess your stroke risk.

Abdominal aortic ultrasounds

This ultrasound is performed in your belly area to screen for the presence of a weak spot in an artery, called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Unlike X-rays or CT scans, ultrasounds don’t use any radiation, so they can be repeated as needed without increasing risks associated with radiation exposure. 

Ultrasounds and your heart health

Ultrasounds play an important role in diagnosing and managing many cardiovascular issues, helping you get the treatment you need to maintain optimal heart health. To learn more about cardiac ultrasounds at our practices in Glendale, Goodyear, Anthem, and Canyon City, Arizona, call Phoenix Heart or book an appointment online today.

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