An ultrasound that treats cancer?By April Frawley Birdwell • Published: May 28th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
Small enough to cradle in your hand …
Powerful enough to treat a speeding bullet wound …
And able to smash kidney stones in a single bound …
It’s an ultrasound!
Actually, it’s a model of a new type of ultrasound created at Cornell University.
Anyone who knows someone who has had a baby has probably seen a grainy, black and white ultrasound image. Well, ultrasounds actually translate sound waves to create these images. A transducer is placed on the part of the body technicians hope to see and from there it captures the sound waves that become the image on the ultrasound screen. Ultrasounds are used to check for tumors or examine any internal part of a patient a doctor wants to check.
The ultrasound Cornell researchers developed is a fraction of the size of a standard ultrasound, which generally weigh about thirty pounds. It also makes use of more energy. The researchers say the high-powered ultrasound produces tsunami sound waves that create steam when they react with water. This power allows the device to do things a typical ultrasound cannot.
For example, researchers say the ultrasound is powerful enough to potentially treat tumors, crush kidney stones and help speed chemotherapy drugs through the body.
But you won’t find this device in your local doctor’s office just yet. Researchers are testing the technology in animals and in clinics at Cornell’s medical school.
Could it be the Superman of ultrasounds? That remains to be seen.