The Wonders of Sound

By Anupum Pant

Sound can do wonders, especially ultrasound – which is basically nothing but a very high frequency sound. It’s also the basis for a popular technique to image growing fetuses inside pregnant women.

Back in the year 2011, the same ultrasound, with a slightly different pulse was used on a patient Gary Denham’s ankle when he came in with a broken ankle. A water-based gel was applied to the ultrasound transducer moved over the broken bone area. There’s no pain or any other undesirable feelings involved here.

But the most interesting part was that the ultrasound made the broken ankle bone heal much faster. The ankle which otherwise would have healed in about 6-12 months got healed completely in 4 months flat.

According to the Orthopedic surgeon Angus MacLean:

We use it for difficult fractures, the ones with problems with healing, and it’s a very simple, painless treatment that we can give.

“It’s a very interesting scientific development and there’s good evidence that it just vibrates the cells a little which then stimulates healing and regeneration in the bone.”

Link – [BBC]

Much before that development, in 2007, there were a few Engineers from the University of Washington who had designed a way to utilize a similar technique to seal lung punctures.

Traditionally, to heal lung punctures pressure was used to stop bleeding. And god forbid, if the puncture was big, a long incision had to be made, ribs separated to sew up the damaged area. Ultrasound proved to be a much better option because it was completely non-invasive after all.

link [Popsci]

And then it was found that ultrasound could be used to skip brain surgery. InSightec, an Israeli company created a tool that could focus ultrasound to a small point inside the brain where the problem was. No damage done to the skull.

The only other two methods, to remove say clots inside the brain, were drugs, or to physically open it up and retrieve the clot. The helmet-like InSightec’s device could sit on top of your head and focus a high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) inside to burst those clots instead.

Link [Technology review]

Another Ultrasound technique recently targeted towards brains again by Australian scientists reported that it could reverse the damage done to the brain because of the evil Alzheimer’s disease. By stimulating a particular kind of cell called microglia, they were able to break down the plaque in mice brains. They achieved retrieval of memory in their brains!

Link [Popsci]

Just a few days back, researchers at the University of Bristol figured that a low-intensity ultrasound could help in decreasing the healing time (increase the rate of healing) of wounds on the skin in diabetic and aged mice by a 30 percent.

Their findings were published in Journal of Investigative of Dermatology. They predict that among the old people, this technique could be used to help diabetic people’s skin heal faster. Also limb amputation that had to be done due to the presence of things like chronic ulcers could soon be a thing of the past.

Link [Popsci]


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