Assessing the risks for modern diagnostic ultrasound imaging

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Some 35 years after Paul-Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered piezoelectricity, ultrasonic imaging was developed by Paul Langevin. During this work, ultrasonic energy was observed to have a detrimental biological effect. These observations were confirmed a decade later by R. W. Wood and A. L. Loomis. It was not until the early 1950s that ultrasonic exposure conditions were controlled and specified so that studies could focus on the mechanisms by which ultrasound influenced biological materials. In the late 1940s, pioneering work was initiated to image the human body by ultrasonic techniques. These engineers and physicians were aware of the deleterious ultrasound effects at sufficiently high levels; this endeavored them to keep the exposure levels reasonably low. Over the past three decades, diagnostic ultrasound has become a sophisticated technology. Yet, our understanding of the potential risks has not changed appreciably. It is very encouraging that human injury has never been attributed to clinical practice of diagnostic ultrasound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2781-2788
Number of pages8
JournalJapanese Journal of Applied Physics, Part 1: Regular Papers and Short Notes and Review Papers
Issue number5 SUPPL. B
StatePublished - May 1998


  • Historical development
  • Safety considerations
  • Ultrasound medical equipment
  • Ultrasound regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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