Basics of Ultrasound Imaging



Ultrasound has been used to image the human body for over half a century. Dr. Karl Theo Dussik, an Austrian neurologist, was the first to apply ultrasound as a medical diagnostic tool to image the brain. Today, ultrasound (US) is one of the most widely used imaging technologies in medicine. It is portable, free of radiation risk, and relatively inexpensive when compared with other imaging modalities, such as magnetic resonance and computed tomography. Furthermore, US images are tomographic, i.e., offering a “cross-sectional” view of anatomical structures. The images can be acquired in “real time,” thus providing instantaneous visual guidance for many interventional procedures including those for regional anesthesia and pain management. In this chapter, we describe some of the fundamental principles and physics underlying US technology that are relevant to the pain practitioner.


Acoustic Impedance Ultrasound Wave Sound Transmission Ultrasound Pulse Tissue Interface 


  1. 1.
    Edler I, Lindstrom K. The history of echocardiography. Ultrasound Med Biol. 2004;30:1565–1644.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hangiandreou N. AAPM/RSNA physics tutorial for residents: topics in US. B-mode US: basic concepts and new technology. Radiographics. 2003;23:1019–1033.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Otto CM. Principles of echocardiographic image acquisition and Doppler analysis. In: Textbook of Clinical Ecocardiography. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2000:1–29.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Weyman AE. Physical principles of ultrasound. In: Weyman AE, ed. Principles and Practice of Echocardiography. 2nd ed. Media, PA: Williams & Wilkins; 1994:3–28.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Lawrence JP. Physics and instrumentation of ultrasound. Crit Care Med. 2007;35:S314–S322.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chan VWS. Ultrasound Imaging for Regional Anesthesia. 2nd ed. Toronto, ON: Toronto Printing Company; 2009.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kossoff G. Basic physics and imaging characteristics of ultrasound. World J Surg. 2000;24:134–142.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Middleton W, Kurtz A, Hertzberg B. Practical physics. In: Ultrasound, the Requisites. 2nd ed. St Louis, MO: Mosby; 2004:3–27.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Fowlkes JB, Averkiou M. Contrast and tissue harmonic imaging. In: Goldman LW, Fowlkes JB, eds. Categorical Courses in Diagnostic Radiology Physics: CT and US Cross-Sectional Imaging. Oak Brook: Radiological Society of North America; 2000:77–95.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Jespersen SK, Wilhjelm JE, Sillesen H. Multi-angle compound imaging. Ultrason Imaging. 1998;20:81–102.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnesthesiaUniversity of Toronto, Toronto Western HospitalTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations