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Welcome to Stuff You Should Know. A production of art radio's HowStuffWorks. Hey, and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark, and there's Charles W. Chuck Brian over there flying solo, batching it up. It's a stag party up in the southeast. Wow. And this is stuff you should not. You remember the happy days where they had a stag party, Richie and Patsy and Ralph Malph went to a stag party with, I think, Ritchie's older brother, who I believe was named Chuck.
Uh, I think his name was Chuck, but I don't remember what happened. I sort of remember that episode.
I think they just got a little freaked out, a little titillated, aroused and then freaked out, I think did things like what would happen?
Did Fonzie fix a jukebox by hitting with his fist?
I think that even may have been pre jukebox Fonzi. I don't even know that he was wearing a leather coat at the time. He may have just been wearing that weird grey jacket that he wore at first.
Yeah, like the mechanic's jacket. And that would make sense because I think Chuck was only in the early days of the happy days, the happiest days. Right.
But then remember, they, like, killed them off like pretty graphically. He suffered from dysentery for basically three straight episodes. Like, that's all they focused on.
And then he finally just died and they said, man, this is called Happy Days. I think we need to just get rid of them. Yeah, I think they changed their showrunner after that. Yeah. So we're talking about ultrasound right now. And if you had dysentery, I'm not entirely convinced that ultrasound would help. But let's say you had a kidney stone instead, gay friend ultrasound would help with that kind of thing. Yeah, they could they could sniff out a kidney stone.
Yeah, they can. As a matter of fact, what's funny is they do everything but sniff. Yeah, they use sound to the vision is the wrong thing. Don't know pretty. Oh boy that was great.
You should be good. So ultrasound. Everybody knows the ultrasound is just about everybody seen an ultrasound picture. You see little babies like in the womb developing and they're getting all cute and everything. Or else you see them really early on and they're not at all cute. But either way, I think everybody is pretty familiar with ultrasound. And I was too. But I still learn quite a bit from this incredibly outdated article by Craig Freude and Rich Ph.D..
Yeah, and you're speaking specifically of what's known as a sonogram. Mm hmm. When a device that, you know, we're going to talk about this in more detail, but a device called a transducer probe is so great is either put on you or in you.
Hmm. Depending on probably on you, depending on what thereafter or how close they need to get. Sure. Yeah, absolutely. And then what? Well, I mean, you know, I can speak from experience, one of the best things in the world is when you see that first little picture of baby and heart beating. Oh. And then the worst moment is when you go in there and get one in that heart isn't beating. Yeah. And it's an unnerving moment when you go in there for that stuff.
And like I said, it can be it can it feels both great and terrible. And I've experienced all.
Yeah, but the thing is, is about ultrasound, Chuck, is it? Most people think that that's what it's used for, is to check on babies, but it's used for a whole bunch of other stuff. Yeah. As well, which we'll talk about. And they're starting to find even more cutting edge techniques for it, too. So it's actually pretty interesting stuff. And the whole thing magically is centered on crystals that are actually hidden in the incredibly greatly named transducer probe.
And they actually, you know, in a way, squeeze these crystals. And when you squeeze crystals, especially ones that have an irregular shape, they do something amazing. They produce energy vibrations in this case. And so by squeezing the crystal of vibration, a sound goes out a very high frequency sound ultrasound. What it is, it is ultrasound on the order. Something like this article says one to five megahertz, but I saw two to twenty is much more standard.
Oh, yeah. And a Hertz's. How many of the same part of a of a wavelength of, you know, sound or something like that would pass by a space, a point in space every second.
So in this case say like the crest of these wavelengths is ultrasound wavelengths, something like 20 million of their crests would pass by one point in space in one second, very, very high frequency, very, very tight, which makes them very, very energetic. So those are the the vibrations, the sound that is produced by squeezing crystals. And you would think just squeezing crystals is pretty, pretty great. Let's just give this thing a blue ribbon for being a wonderful piece of technology.
But it gets even better than that.
Yeah. I mean, if you're talking about the fact that there is a machine that then calculates these distances from the probe to whatever it's trying to measure and then basically can create a two and now even three dimensional picture of that.
Right. It seems like magic.
It does, especially because those those sound waves that propagate from the crystal being squeezed, which I like to think of as the crystals being squeezed. And it's making the sound in the light. It's not like a painful, painful sound that it's like it's just like, yeah, yeah.
That feels right.
So those sound waves, when they travel into the body, they hit all sorts of stuff. They hit tissue, they hit liquid, they hit everything. And it's everything. Bone. Yeah. And the the higher frequency of a wave the more likely it is to bounce back. So a lot of that stuff bounces back and when it bounces back, Chuck, it comes right back into those crystals. And when it hits those crystals, it actually produces electricity.
And then that electrical impulse is what's converted into through some sort of black magic that I have a lot of trouble wrap my head around into images. So sound gets translated into images via electrical impulses. And at the heart of it all are those crystals.
Yeah, I think if you were to ask your average person if an ultrasound like it, just a yes or no question like an ultrasound, does it use actual crystals to produce an image, you would probably get left out of the room by nine out of ten people and say, of course it doesn't. That's sort of weird. Wicken hokum, right, that you're trying to sell me on.
It's not real, but it's remarkable. I had no idea that it uses crystals.
Yeah, I think this machine is actually second only to the breathalyzer machine in surprising complexity. Yeah. And I presume the ultrasound machine was pretty complex, but yeah, I had no idea that they were squeezing crystals in there.
Yeah. In nineteen forty two there was a neurologist who used ultrasonic waves as a, as a tool, as a diagnostic tool for the first time named Karl with a K Dusek, and he was trying to search for brain tumors through someone's skull. Yeah. And I think it was not until the nineteen fifties, so about six years later, fifty eight that it was first used for a sonogram with Dr. Ian Donald. Yeah.
And the great advantage of ultrasound is that you're just. You're sending sound waves which are mechanical in nature into the body, you're not using ionizing radiation like x rays, so you're not going to, like, produce tumors necessarily. There's not you're just not exposed to being exposed to radiation energy. You're being exposed to mechanical energy. Again, just acoustic waves of sound. But what's amazing about this is that that that sound, those echoes from that sound, that bounce off of the different barriers or what they're called, say like between blood and tissue or tissue and bone as they bounce back up and they're converted into images you can see into the human body without using x rays and without cutting somebody open.
So it was an enormous advance that I think really gets overlooked, at least by the general public as far as medical advances go, like it was huge when we figured out how to do this.
Yeah, and that's why if you ever go to get a sonogram or something like this and they show you an image of your little bread, love baking in the oven and you catch yourself in your head thinking it looks kind of crazy to me, just put your foot in the door and slam it real quick. Right. And make sure you don't say that out loud in front of anyone in the room, because it is truly a little miracle machine just to get an image that looks that cruddy.
Especially don't say it in front of Carl Dusek. No, no. It would really hurt his feelings.
And all of this I mean, this stuff is remarkable because it's the same concept of just the sonar that we use in the military, in the sonar that bats use. Yeah.
And as a matter of fact, like our understanding of echolocation, which is ultimately what it's based on, it's shooting out sound and then listening for the echoes and then taking the information that those echoes bring back to judge things like distance, shape, size, all this. If you can get a lot of information from sound, if you know how to use echolocation, that's what's happening. We're squeezing crystals to make the sound. And then in turn, after they shout, they turn into ears, listening for the echoes that come back and the echoes that come back ultimately become those white or bright or light areas on a sonogram that that form like the shape.
Those are the echo.
Yeah. And it's way better. The very first sonograms, they would get boxes of bats. They would open the lid and throw it over the pregnant belly very fast. Right. Right. Let them fly around for a couple of minutes and then take those bats into another room and give them pads of paper and pencils. Right. Instead to draw what you heard.
And bats are actually pretty good at drawing. Most of them are surprising.
Honestly, it looks about as good as the current sonogram.
Yeah. So I guess you're not a big you're not super impressed by the resolution.
You know, it's like I said, when you when you realize what's going on, it's truly a miracle. And the 3D ones.
Yeah, I mean, those are kind of creepily accurate, right?
They are. They have a little uncanny valley thing going a little bit. Not sure why. Yeah, but they definitely do. But that's a huge advance in ultrasound because like originally an ultrasound, especially if you just see the the flat one that almost looks like a grainy X-ray or something like that. But you're seeing something like soft tissue. That's another advantage of ultrasound over x ray. X ray typically shows much harder stuff, whereas an ultrasound can't show you even like blood.
Something is non dense, dense, less sure.
What's the opposite of dense, viscous, loose Lusikisiki?
Yeah, Lusikisiki, even as something is is anatomically Lucy Goosey is blood. The ultrasound can capture that because of the high frequency and the other. The other great thing about using high frequency is that or the other reason we use high frequency is the higher the frequency, the greater the resolution. And it's not a perfect analogy, but it's similar to how if you increase the magnitude of a microscope, you can see smaller and smaller stuff. It's very much similar.
The higher the frequency of, say, sound in an ultrasound machine, the more finely detailed, the more resolution you can have. A problem is, is that the those higher energy wavelengths tend to bounce back, tend to reflect very easily lower energy travels further and further through the body. So what they figured out is you can combine these and that's how you ultimately get 3D imaging, which we'll talk a little more about in a minute.
You want to take a break? Yeah, let's take a break and we'll come back and talk about all the parts of this. I was about to call it the Wonder Machine, but we already have one of those. So the miracle machine. Miracle Machine is good. All right. Right after this.
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Listen to paper ghosts on the radio app, Apple podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. All right, so the miracle machine has and, you know, they don't explain any of this stuff, they basically, you know, you go in there and they're just like, hey, this thing works. This is a bit of black magic and just sit back and and open up and here comes the probe. Yeah, we I think we should go over the list that appears in this article that was apparently written by Franz Kafka.
Yeah. All right. We have to. OK, agreed. I have a feeling you're talking about the the final few things about what happens during an ultrasound examination.
Oh, that part. Yeah, sure. OK, all right. So you got your transducer probe, which we already talked about a little bit. And that is the thing that that the eyes and the ears that sends and receives those waves. And like we said, it can go. If you if you see this in a movie, then you're likely seeing the kind that they put on your belly because you're far along and they want to see like that little baby in the body parts and everything that is later on in a pregnancy.
At first they use the one that goes, you know, into the vagina with a condom strapped on the end of it.
Not that right. But roll down. Sure. I mean, it makes perfect sense, you know. Yeah. I mean, you got to put some sort of protective covering over it, OK? And what better than a condom to fit over something that's sort of shaped like a penis. Gotcha. And then they lube that thing up and then up it goes. And then that's how you check on things in the earlier parts of the pregnancy.
I would hope that they would have these much smaller. Is it? Well, I mean, they don't use a magnet is the magnet. OK, all right. But even still, the condom fits very loosely to I should be ok. OK, that's what I was after. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's um.
No, I'm trying to I'm looking around the room that you're not even in to try and compare it to something. But what does that mean. Well I mean, I mean we're working from home.
No, no. You said you were looking around the room. Yeah. Try to compare it to something, but I'm not there. Correct, I'm looking for a like object in the room that you're not even sitting in. Yeah, no, I get what you're saying. I was making a different joke that you're not picking up. I'm not picking up on it.
Let's say it's as big as this highlighter, sort of like a Sharpie magic marker.
OK, OK, roughly. Yeah, all right, so I think we're together on the size of the transducer probe that's used early on, it's inserted and they might use that same they might use that same one. Where are you going to say how did we get through?
Like breastfeeding in female puberty? And this one is the one that's tripping us up.
So I know I have no idea. But I'm going to get this back on track, though. Watch this. All right. That same, uh, wand wand. Great word for it. Um, it might be used anally, orally, all sorts of different ways. They might stick it in whatever orifice they can. It's not just vaginally depending on what they want to get a closer look at. Sure is. You know, especially if they're not just looking at a baby.
OK, yeah. Yeah. Let's move on. Let's do. All right. Up next on the list is the CPU. And that's, you know, that's the little computer that does all that, that black magic math. Yeah. And it notes here in the article that contains the electrical power supply. I noticed that, too.
I thought that was really specific. So, yeah, like if you look at any any ultrasound machine, even the most cutting edge ones that they have now look pretty much the same as when you would have seen in like the 70s. Yeah, they're just a little slimmer. They're a little more user friendly. They'll probably have a touch screen. I saw that the I think it's the Siemens. Secoya has a gel warmer, which I'm sure is very appreciated by patients.
Very nice. But I mean, for the most part, it's just like everything that this article from, I don't know, probably two thousand eight is describing.
Yeah, you've got your transducer pulse controls and that's where you can change the frequency, the duration of the pulses, the amplitude. Right.
You say, well, we'll explain what that means in a little while to the to the tech. They might understand what's going on, but really it's them saying, like, get clearer, focus, go deeper. Three demoed, that kind of thing. Yeah. But to the computer, it's like, no, we're we're messing with the amount of electricity that's coming and going through the crystals.
Correct. OK, all right. You got your display that speaks for itself. Sure. It's we'll monitor it says on here keyboard. Right. Inputs data. Yeah. I thought that was pretty funny to the next two or my favorites of this list though. Why don't you go ahead and take it away. I wasn't expecting that I was taking a sip of coffee.
You've got the disk storage device, which could be anything from a hard drive, a floppy disk or CD. Yes. And it says that it stores the acquired images. And I actually wrote I wish you could see this. I wrote, ha ha under that part.
It clearly does not have a USB drive. No, clearly not. Or any kind of SSD drive or anything like that. But then the last one, Chuck, is the printer, which I'm sure still exists. But I'm just guessing that they were in describing a dot matrix printer in this one. Now the printers there. But it's you know, it's one of those little guys that you just punch the button and it spits out and then they tear it off.
Yes. So, I mean, they can email you a JPEG, I'm sure. But they're also like here this goes on your fridge.
Here's a butterfly made out of letters.
Oh, go home with. That's right.
OK, so again, that's still basically the components of an ultrasound machine. What I was like, surely, surely this article is just hopelessly out of date. And I mean, it really is it doesn't it didn't capture, you know, some of the cutting edge stuff that's being used today. But really, ultrasound machines haven't changed that much in the last like ten, twenty, maybe 30 or so years. They've just gotten smaller, more powerful. And as far as computer technology is improved, so, too, has whatever computer you're going to find on board an ultrasound machine.
But the the the nuts and bolts of it are still generally the same thing. And the the key, though, the thing that's really changed over time and gotten better and more sophisticated and varied is that transducer probe. Yeah. Because it's virtually. Yeah, for sure. If you're going to make any improvements, you want to make it to the transducer probe because it's going to have some pretty big effects in the keyboard. Maybe, maybe so because you do want to input data.
Yes. Easily. But with that transducer probe initially they had say like one crystal and that crystal would shoot basically a static beam that was going out into your body. And it would basically just take a snapshot of whatever it came in contact with. There might not have been much adjustment to resolution, to depth, to focus anything like that. It was just like here. What do you expect? It's the 1950s. You break, you're looking into a human body using sound waves, just be impressed with that.
But then as they started to figure out how to add more and more crystals into an array, an array, yeah, you can do all sorts of different things. Now, all of a sudden, your output of sound waves can be adjusted crystal by crystal and your input can be adjusted crystal by crystal as well. So the resolution overall is just magnificently improved since they started making arrays of crystals in these transducer probes.
Yeah, and you did a nice little quickie overview of how it worked. But I don't think we mentioned that it's based on a principle called the piezoelectric or pressure electricity effect. Yeah, we didn't. And that's discovered by a couple of dudes in the late 80s.
Peter and Jack Curry, any relation come to look that up?
Yeah, I think Peter is Marie Curie's husband.
OK. One of the two are I'm pretty sure it was peer and one of the few times that wife has overshadowed the husband's accomplishments.
Yes, but all three of them were extremely accomplished. Oh, sure. Yeah. I don't know if the Curis know they were kind enough to they actually contributed quite a bit.
I mean, how much do you want to go over this again? How much more detail do we do we want to throw on people?
I mean, I think we basically already explained it. We just left out that it's called the Piazza Electric Effect, which the Curies discovered. I mean, yeah, but again, ultimately, you squeeze a crystal and then it makes a yelp and then it listens out and whatever bounces back gets converted into electricity. It's a it's a it's an inherent property of irregularly shaped crystals. That is just astounding that that actually happens and maybe even more astounding that humans figured out how to harness it to look inside the body.
Yeah. And, you know, they're the two most important parts, obviously, that in the CPU and the CPU to be able to figure out. And of course, it is programmed to do so.
It's not an emotional living thing that that yet had a fire under its butt. Right. But the way that it figures out how to to basically plot these, I mean, it's kind of plotting densities is what it's doing at the end of the day, don't you think?
Yeah, for sure. Based on the echoes that come back in the distance of time and. Yeah. How how energetic the echo is. Because, you know, when when a frequency of sound or a wavelength hits something and it's bounced back, it transfers some of its energy. I don't think it's I don't want to say this because we're going to get an email from physics people. So let me just caveat it with that, is that I would be very surprised if there's any situation or many situations, especially when you're talking about something is is kludgy is the human body where you're going to get 100 percent reflection back.
Right. Based on the different kinds of intensities that are received back into that crystal. Those can be measured and you can map like, oh, this is actually a very solid part compared to this this part, which now you can see is the edge because it just kind of tapers off and that the wavelength didn't bounce back quite as strongly because some of it missed or some of it was absorbed.
Yeah. And the cool thing about all of this is it's done in real time. It's not like they're doing this. And then a couple of days later, you get your photo. I mean, it's all right there, right? In the case of a sonogram and I guess every every use of it. But that's the only one I've experienced personally. Yeah, it's right there on the monitor. And, you know, you you hear the little heart beating, too.
So it actually record sound as well.
That's neat. And this article didn't really touch on that. But that's that's just astounding to me. It's like that's the most like sonar, I think is that I mean, that's that's where it's the same. Echolocation is all the basis of this, right? Yeah. Where you're making a sound and then listening back for an echo. But in this case, we've figured out how to transfer those those sounds that or what comes back into images. But it would make sense that you could also just maintain it as a sound, too, right?
Yeah, I mean, I would think so. I mean, that's what a hydrophone is, that those underwater mikes that also just listen to, you know, sound. I'm a little stumped on that one, I have to admit.
Or maybe there's a tiny microphone attached, maybe quite the microphone.
Uh, no, I think that's probably just a part of the the the programming. And maybe perhaps that is the easiest part.
Perhaps so. But I really feel like we should just come totally clean and say that totally guessing. It was all educated guess. Yes. Which you can say is also just making up stuff on the spot. Yeah.
Yeah. Someone, someone can correct this and we'll read it out loud. Yeah. We'll read it out loud. We do that kind of thing.
So like we said, we've been talking about the TUD variety.
They, they, I guess this was around the mid to early 2000s because they talk about sort of the new 3D imaging. Mm hmm. And it's been around for a while now.
Right. It's basically the standard 3D, although I think 2D is still, you know, very much use. You think 2D the standard. I think so.
OK, or maybe it has to do with how far along as far as sonograms go.
Right. Or really what they need to do. But the or how what they need to see. I think it probably also depends on that as well. But the so to D is that standard the one that almost looks like an x ray. It's basically a snapshot. It's kind of grainy, but that's. That's what people think of as a standard 2D sonogram or ultrasound picture. Yes, then you've got 3D, which is that comes out as a result of the crystal arrays.
Right. So you can you can change the frequency of the pulses that are going out so you can sense things further away with the slightly lower frequency ones and sensor things closer with the the higher frequency ones. And the whole thing puts these images together to create a 3D picture.
Yeah. And like I said, if you've never seen a 3D picture, it ain't right from a sonogram. It's pretty interesting. It's remarkable that they can get this level of detail. And part of it is surely to delight parents to be there's no doubt about it. But it's not just for that. It's not like, hey, you want to see an even cooler, creepy picture of that developing circus peanut? Because we can we can do that now.
Yeah, it has a lot of uses. You can there's a lot more detail. You can really assess development of of limbs and the face of the of the baby to be. And you can really get in there and kind of see more with your eyeballs. What's going on?
Well, plus also, I mean, if you're looking for something like a tumor, it's much harder to see a tumor in two dimensions as like black and white shadows than it is to see like a three dimensional lump. So that's super helpful for 3D as well. And then there's there's another mode called mode or motion mode, which I believe is basically a bunch of 2D images that are just taken in such rapid succession that they basically are act like a flipbook or a video.
So you can see this in in basically real time or just slightly delayed real time. Because I know you kind of reference that this is all happening like immediately, but like the policies that are being sent out and then returning are happening on the order of like millionths of a second. Yeah, over and over and over again. There's there's that kind of old timey single beam that's a constant wavelength that's not much in use. The new ones are just very quick pulses that are shot out many, many times in a single second.
And as those things are shot out, the stuff is returning just mind bogglingly quickly to the crystals to be turned into data.
Now, that's not the Doppler one, is it? No. Doppler actually uses a steady beam, from what I read. Yeah. So the Doppler ultrasound, it's mainly used to to find out. I mean, I'm sure they can use it for more than one thing, but it seems like the major uses to measure your blood flow rate and go to your heart. They can go to your major arteries and they can basically see if you've got any kind of blood flow problems because it's measuring a moving thing going through your body.
Yeah, and it actually looks like a weather map where they use Doppler radar. I mean, most people see Doppler radar used for things like a tornado or something like that to show different wind speeds. So like the different flow, speeds of the blood flow will be different colors. And they can read that and be like, oh, your your blood flowing nicely, right.
You got no problems, right? Doppler. So I feel like we should take another break, huh?
Oh my gosh. This is so thrilling that I think we need to to catch our breath. All right. We'll talk about some of the other things that you can do with the miracle machine right after this.
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Yeah, like we had Wonder Machine basically from the beginning.
I think so. And here we are in year 12 and we just named another machine, the Miracle Machine. Yeah.
So we talked enough, I think about well, we're going to talk a little bit more about it, about obstetrics, obstetric, man, I knew I was going to do that. Obstetrics.
Yeah. And when you go in there, like I said, part of it is to delight parents to be and say, here it is, everything's going. Heartbeat is strong. Everything's happening. But they're also doing all sorts of things. They measure the size of the fetus. They use a mouse to sort of click around and measure different distances. They determine due date. They want to make sure that fetus is in the right position. They want to make sure the placenta is in the right position.
They want to see how many fetuses there are in there. That's when you get the old, by the way, did not know if you knew this, but there are actually three living things inside of you right now or eight.
So a growth rate you can detect the ectopic pregnancy. Pregnancy is this way. Yeah, that's a big one. That's a very big one. That is when the baby is implanted in the fallopian tubes instead of in the uterus. And that means that it's not a viable pregnancy.
Right. It's a life threatening for the mom. What else? Amniotic fluid.
You got to make sure that there's enough cushion around that baby. Yeah. For the pushin.
Well, yeah, actually, that's eventually. Yeah. And then if you want to say go in and take a sample of the amniotic fluid, which you can do a lot of things by sampling amniotic fluid to test. So there's a lot of reasons to go in and draw some amniotic fluid. I don't know why I'm trying to convince everybody that there's reasons to take samples of amniotic fluid that there is. But at the same time, you could sit there and look into the into the womb womb is OK, right?
I'm not like using some archaic and now offensive term. I jeez, I don't think so. OK, I don't think so either. If I am, please forgive me. I'm genuinely unaware of that. So call me if I'm if I'm wrong. Like I don't think so.
Anyway, it's called a baby box these days my friend. Exactly. Yeah. So if you want to keep an eye on the baby box while you're getting a sample of the amniotic fluid to make sure you're not accidentally poking the baby, that's the ultrasound is really effective for that man.
Can you believe they used to do that blindly?
I was reading an article about using ultrasound to guide Spinal Tap insertion. Yeah. And this article said that it that the authors believe that even though that you can use ultrasound for this, now that the technology is widely available, most neurosurgeons prefer to just go in blind because it's more thrilling. Seriously, this was an academic journal article that I was reading and they just said it.
So they crack open some. A.M. Nitrates, Nevitt and then go in there. Yeah, wow, wearing a Hawaiian shirt. What else can you do? You can use this for cardiology. We talked about the blood flow, but you can also literally say, hey, is there something going on inside of your heart?
Let's go look. Yeah.
And especially with 3D and real time stuff like you like. It's one thing to say, OK, well, the shape of your heart looks pretty good or the flow of your blood looks pretty good. But thanks to that mode, so you can see it in motion, you can actually see make sure that the valves are opening and closing correctly in the right the right time, like it's basically just peeking in real time under the operations of your of your body using emote.
It's pretty, pretty amazing stuff. It's amazing. We also said, of course, you can see kidney stones, which, by the way, I think we should do an episode on kidney stones eventually. Have you ever had one? I don't want to say because I don't want to jinx myself.
OK, so you haven't. But you fear it. Yes, that's the way to put it. Yeah. I've never had a kidney stone either or gallstones. I've never had any stones inside me. But I've heard that getting those out is quite the ride.
Yes, you can also measure blood flow through the kidneys too. You can detect prostate cancer. You can see lumps on the prostate. That's one of those instances where they'll be using the wand. Um, yeah. So I also said earlier on, Chuck, that they're getting smaller and higher resolution and more portable. And one of the places that ultrasound machines are going to pop up more and more. And I think now it's probably just a matter of course, based on how old this article is.
But emergency rooms, they're starting to really become kind of par for the course. So, like, if somebody shows up and says, like, you know, they're doubled over in abdominal pain rather than sending them to surgery or even up to radiology. Yeah, they will they will just apply an ultrasound there and be like, oh, yeah, you've got a ruptured stomach. Yeah. So we need to we need to get we need to get that fixed.
And they say now I wish I would have rushed you into surgery. Right.
I need a second opinion. Yeah. Ultrasounds are safe there. You know, there have been questions because any time you're applying heat and energy near organs like very close to organs sometimes. Yeah. You've got to really kind of consider this. And there have been some reports here and there of low birth weight babies if you have had frequent ultrasounds during your pregnancy. But they have basically come out and say ultrasounds are safe, but sort of like an X-ray.
You don't want to come in here every other day and get one right. You want to only do it when it's necessary because there is heat and apparently the formation of bubbles because of this heat when dissolved gases come out of that solution. Hmm. You know, that's a thing. But they are safe. Yeah.
I mean, we've been using them for 60, 70 years now, and there's been plenty of chance for if that's an issue, for it to become obvious and evident with. I mean, it's it just seems like it's very safe. I did see that there. This article says that there's not been any documented studies that show harm in animals. And that's not true. Actually, there are animal studies that have shown that exposure to some kinds of ultrasound, typically continuous wave, which is just a concentrated beam of energy.
Yeah, that that can actually cause thermal heating, which is not good. And then I found another study from twenty seventeen that said some kinds, especially continuous wave, but also super, super quickly pulsed ultrasound has shown that it can break up DNA strands. How interesting. Which is weird because like that's one of the things that people have always pointed to is, well, this is just mechanical energy. It's not going to damage your DNA. Like ionizing radiation is pretty.
It's a pretty startling revelation. And they actually said in the article, you know, again, it was an academic journal article. I can't remember which one, but it said, like, this is going to be of like a lot of interest to a bunch of different fields because we didn't know this before.
You know, it is interesting. It is. Is it time to read the Franz Kafka? Your guide to getting a ultrasound. Yes, I also want to say check before we do, though, um, the there again, there's basically no evidence that there is harm that comes from ultrasound exams in Obst in obstetrics, especially when it's done by a trained person. Oh, sure. Yeah. It doesn't sound like it's anything to be worried about overall.
Yeah. I don't want to scare anybody. And you shouldn't or people should not be right.
And you shouldn't both. Yeah. All right. So Franz Kafka esque guide to getting an ultrasound.
No. One. Man, if we could get Werner Herzog to read this list, that would just be amazing. We've got a pretty good runner up in the room. Noel does a great job.
I should we should get Nolan here. OK, we can double men. Uh, no one is to remove your clothes. OK, number two is the ultra sonographer drapes the cloth over any exposed areas that are not needed for the exam.
All right. OK, check number three. Uh, we should really get Paula Tompkins if we want to do this right, actually.
Why? What would he do? Well, he does a great Werner Herzog. OK, yeah. We should just get Werner Herzog out, man. He's down for whatever it seems like.
What stuff should I know? Yeah. Uh, the ultra sonographer applies a mineral oil based jelly to your skin. All right. It doesn't say this or to the condom on the probe. The jelly eliminates air between the probe in your skin to help pass the sound waves into your body.
Yeah, and if you're lucky, they're using a semen Secoya Brand ultrasound machine, which has an onboard gel heater. That's right.
Are they giving you money? No. OK, I want some of that seaman's money. Hey, man, they got they're loaded. They're one of those companies that kind of make everything right. Yeah, yeah.
What if they did hear this and reached out to us and we're like, hey, we really appreciate it. We're sending you guys each an ultrasound machine.
Hey, man, I got it.
Can go with my I've got a Siemens brand, a car charger, electric car charger.
You go. I'll bet there's something that was left off this list. You can charge your car with a decent ultrasound or at the very least jump on off.
It's yeah, it's got jumper cables.
It's the ultra sonographer covers the probe with a plastic cover. That's the condom he slashes. And I'm going to add slash. They pass the probe over your skin to obtain the required images depending on the type of exam the probe may be inserted into. You and you want to finish up here the last few? Oh, no, you're doing great. All right. Number six, you may be asked to change position, change positions to get a better looks at the area of interest.
Okay, here's twenty eight popping up again. Number seven, after the images have been acquired and measurements taken, the data is stored on a disk. You may get a hard copy of the images.
You know, they may write in Sharpie what it is on the disk even. And then the now here the TV gets. Yeah, this is where it starts to take a kind of a dark turn. Number eight, you're given a towelette to clean up. And number nine, I can't believe this is actually on the list. You get dressed.
It's just like the grimmest list of procedures you've ever heard of. And they stop at nine. No, ten should have been. Then you go give them your credit card and pay your copay. Right. Number eleven, you walk out to the parking lot, the parking lot. Number twelve, walk back in because you forgot to give validated number thirteen, check your back seat. Make sure there are no creeps there. Right. Number fourteen, remove the creep that you found.
Wow. Quite a list.
So we're talking about the future of ultrasound in this this, uh, this article isn't really capture it. So I started to look around. I found, weirdly enough, a list of cutting edge ultrasound stuff in the Daily Mail, of all places. And the list is actually terrible because of Daily Mail article. But one thing that they did talk about was tractor beams that they figured out that you can actually lift something as small as a bead at this point using sound waves like in Star Wars.
You would think kind of like Star Wars, but no, not at all. It's actually levitating more than a tractor beam. Tractor beam makes it sound like you're pulling something upward toward you. This is actually raising it up away from you. But there are all sorts of applications for this, especially in water, because you can use these sounds in the different arrays, in different configurations of arrays to move something left or right. It's called steering the beam.
And they actually use it for for ultrasound imaging, too. But you can actually move things like, say, an oil slick. You could kind of basically drive it in to shore away from shore to some other place where you want to capture it. That's actually pretty cool. Applications for it in medicine. They figured out that if you give somebody a drug, say, like a chemotherapy drug, some of those chemotherapy drugs only partially cross the blood brain barrier.
So they're only partially effective. The risk just gets metabolized and you pee it out or whatever. So they figured out that if you give somebody a chemotherapy drug and then blast their brain with an ultrasound machine, it will push the drugs, pass the blood brain barrier into your brain, and they'll they'll be that much more effective. Oh, wow. I thought that was pretty cool, too. There was a man who was awakened from a coma because the doctor, for some reason blasted his hypothalamus with the continuous wave beam of ultrasound.
But even the doctor was like, this may have been coincidence, but, you know, I don't know.
It seems like there are all sorts of applications that are just starting to tap into. Yeah, I've got a couple more. Let's hear. Ultrasound, assisted, liposuction, basically burning up fat cells drive in and out of there. Yes, but that really kind of points out that, yeah, this actually can create heat because that's what they're doing, is melting fat cells using sound, which is the thing. But then they've also figured out that depending on the frequency of the sound of the sound wave, it can actually stimulate growth and function in cells.
So they found that like persistent wounds, like ulcers and things like that, you can actually stimulate them to heal by hitting them with sound waves.
Wow. Yeah, I love it. Is there anything an ultrasound machine can't do? Chuck, I don't know, I do know and I'll tell you what the answer to that is and it's no. You got anything else? You got nothing else but a listener mail.
OK, well, that's it for ultrasounds, 47 minutes. That's impressive. It is. Uh, well, since I said it's impressive, it's time for listening to me.
Uh, hi, guys. I am an 11 year old boy from the West Coast. My parents introduced me to your podcast a few years ago, and I became interested in podcasts and podcasting because of you. I've recently started my own podcast called A Child's Perspective of Current Events. It sounds wonderful. Yeah, it does.
I'm going to check it out. I haven't had a chance to listen yet again, but he said I would love it if you would mention my podcast during your listener mail section. That would really help boost my audience monthly listeners. Thank you for your time. I really hope you'll consider mentioning me on your podcast. And that is from Degen Hausfeld. Nice. And again, it's called a child's perspective of current events. I love that straightforward name.
It's like stuff you should know. It says it. It definitely is in the same wheelhouse for sure. Yeah, but it's not derivative in any way. No, no, no. Not like it. It's just in its perfect simplicity. Yeah. I love it. And I'm going to give that a listen this afternoon, Daken, and see how you're doing. And if you need any other advice, just let us know. But so far the you've done the smartest thing, which was to get someone on a super popular podcast to talk about your podcast.
Right. That's step one. It helps. Hopefully you'll get a K bump out of this and I'm going to go listen to Dagan's. So thanks for letting us know, right? Yeah, right. If you want to go check out Dagan's podcast, go do that. It's called A Child's Perspective on current events. So great. And in the meantime, if you want to get in touch with us, you can send us an email like they can wrap it up, spank it on the bottom and send it off to Stuff podcast that I heart.
Radio dotcom. Stuff you should know is a production of radios HowStuffWorks for more podcasts, My Heart Radio is the radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. From My Heart radio, it's the Hey Pal podcast, hey, pal. Hey, pop quiz. Jared and Dave, we are going to be talking sports. We have Julian Edelman on our podcast today. Julian, it's football movies who's advancing between Jerry Maguire and Warner.
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I'm Jennifer Palmieri, host of a new podcast from the recount called Just Something About Her after working on five presidential campaigns. I thought women could achieve the same success as men if they played by the rules. Then 2016 happened in my podcast. Just something about her. I'll talk with women, CEOs, athletes, politicians and more. So together we can create our own girls. Listen to just something about her I heart radio app, Apple podcast, or wherever you get your podcast.