Ask HQ – Your equestrian questions answered

Ask HQ – Your equestrian questions answered

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What is the difference between therapeutic and diagnostic ultrasound?

Asked by Caitlin White


Diagnostic ultrasound involves the use of ultrasound waves to produce an image that will aid in the diagnosis of a particular condition or disease. A tool to aid in the visualisation of internal organs can be a guide to make informative therapeutic decisions. Equipment is designed to obtain information without intentionally producing a biological effect. Examples are an abdominal ultrasound, thoracic ultrasound, musculoskeletal ultrasound and reproduction ultrasound.

Therapeutic ultrasound uses sound waves generated by a transducer head to penetrate soft tissues. It is divided into thermal and mechanical ultrasound therapy. Thermal ultrasound therapy uses a continuous transmission of sound waves that causes microscopic vibrations in deep tissue molecules, increasing heat and friction. Mechanical ultrasound therapy uses pulses of sound waves to penetrate tissues, has a minor warming effect, causes expansion and contraction in the tiny gas bubbles of the soft tissues, helps decrease the inflammatory response, reducing tissue swelling and thus decreasing pain. This is used for swelling and scar tissue treatment.

Answered by Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital

The full article appears in the Winter Guide issue of HQ (June 123) > Shop now