The New Year is now well underway, and people the world over have resolved to live better lives and make the most of 2015. But some lives are only just beginning.
The babies of 2015 will be born into a world that is more exciting, more fascinating and more astounding than ever before. They will be the engineers, politicians, doctors and teachers of the future, with the potential to change our world into one barely fathomable to us.
By utilizing ultrasound, physicians are able to peer inside the womb and obtain images that can be used in assessing the baby’s development and also identifying potential problems. This is made possible by using technology that electronically mimics the way bats find their way around at night.
In the late 1700s, Italian priest and scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani discovered that bats emit inaudible sound waves and detect their echoes to map the world around them.
The ability to artificially replicate a bat’s ability to echolocate was first developed by the Royal Navy, who used it to find and sink a German U-Boat in the Atlantic. After some refinement of the technology, ultrasound technology has been used since the 1960s to non-invasively examine the developing fetus in the womb. Two dimensional ultrasound images alone may not provide enough clarity or flexibility to enable the physician to assess fetal health. This is when a 4D ultrasound scanner, like the Voluson E10, comes in handy.
The system uses the same principles of ultrasound that have been used for decades, but uses software to create a 3D image. Like a virtual, high-end post-production studio, the scanner’s new HDlive Silhouette and HDlive Flow applications use the ultrasound data in new ways to calculate depth, shape and detail. Add noise-removal, image enhancement, color and light, and the final 3D image is complete.
The incredible number-crunching power of the machine allows it to render these images in seconds. What was once a grainy, greyscale, two-dimensional image is now a clear picture that a healthcare provider can use to focus on the clinical benefits of ultrasound and use it in assessing fetal health.
With a 4D scan, the added dimension being time, the baby can be seen moving around in the womb. HDlive technology adds a virtual light source to the image, calculating the movement of shadows and even the translucency of the baby’s skin.
The technology can be used to obtain images of the blood vessels, heart, and other organs, showing depth, blood flow and structure in a way that provides a powerful tool to help assess conditions that the baby might have before it is even born. It is vital to track fetal development throughout the pregnancy.
Here’s to the newborns of 2015, and the bright futures ahead of them.
*All comparative statements as compared to GE Healthcare’s Voluson Expert Series BT13