This week I’ve been looking inside myself and I’ve got the sonograms to prove it.
A number of studies run by my colleagues involve the use of ultrasound. In fact, one of the main research projects I have been directly supporting (the TABUL Study) is directly focused on exploring how ultrasound compares to the current standard practise of taking a temporal artery biopsy in looking for proof of Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA). Therefore, I’ve seen plenty of still and video images collected during the study but, wanting to get a better understanding of how they are created, was glad to volunteer myself as a healthy control for another study that is beginning.
It is amazing what you can do with sound. Using waves in the MHz range (well above the limits of human hearing), images can be created of the area under the skin and it is even possible to measure blood flow. The resulting images take a high degree of skill to interpret though. Even if you had the colour that was visible on screen in that “snake” along the top of the scan, it probably wouldn’t tell you much. Indeed, I can understand better now why video captures are better than stills and why even a video is no substitute for actually performing a live scan.
Putting it in terms I can understand, I wonder if I can make an analogy to music. If I am interested in a jazz tune, a lead sheet is a starting point and hearing a performance is even better but practising and delivering a performance myself is the way I really start to understand the tune (with instrumental jazz, I find it much easier to name tunes I’ve played myself than ones I’ve only heard, even if the performance I’m listening to is radically different to my previous experience). While I’m still not a sonographer, it was a fascinating experience and that music analogy it led me to is itself worth pondering further.