Bernadette Herring, Volunteer Sonographer for 3W
We live in a world filled with mysteries. One of the most amazing mysteries is the human body. In ancient medicine, to see inside the body required physical dissection. The development of a human fetus was a miraculous, unseen event—a mystery. In the pursuit of knowledge, medical researchers wanted to solve this mystery.
Modern science applied to medicine brings wonderful benefits to people everywhere. The use of ultrasound for medical imaging purposes began in the 1950’s and has evolved into a very common method of diagnosis. It provides a way of looking inside a person from outside.
The ultrasound tech, or sonographer, uses a little gel and a hand-held probe that is moved over the skin in the area requiring imaging. The probe transmits gentle, high-frequency sound waves—above the range of human hearing—through the body and detects the waves that bounce back. This information is processed by the ultrasound machine which then generates an image on the screen—effectively putting light on the subject.
The mostly black and white image produced reveals a lot of information to a trained eye. The sonographer is basically a photographer who skillfully captures images that are then analyzed by a qualified doctor. The most enjoyable images captured—ones that even an untrained eye can appreciate—are those of the growth and development of a baby at different stages of the pregnancy. When the unborn baby is old enough to move and shows signs of self-awareness, watching them can be very entertaining. Whether they are trying to do backflips or sucking on their toes, they are completely unaware that through ultrasound they have an audience.
The main advantages of ultrasound are that it is safe, gentle, silent, and non-invasive. These are unique features that stand out among the other types of medical imaging. Since the procedure is painless, the patient is lying down, and the room darkened to better illuminate the screen, some patients have been known to actually fall asleep! Every ultrasound exam is performed with your safety and comfort in mind.
I love helping people, and I love being able to use modern technology to do it. I try to help women know the truth about their bodies, especially if they’re pregnant. It’s fascinating to look inside and to be a witness to the wonder of the human body.