News | Ultrasound Imaging | March 28, 2017

Malaysian Study Finds Ultrasound Can Decrease Bone Density

Prolonged prenatal ultrasound exposure leads to decreased bone density and strength in young rabbits

March 28, 2017 — Young rabbits exposed to ultrasound during fetal development had weaker thighbones than unexposed rabbits, according to a study published in the Pertanika Journal of Science & Technology. While the finding applies to a relatively small group of test subjects, 142 young rabbits, it raises questions about the rising use of prenatal ultrasounds in women worldwide.

Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to produce images of internal body structures, including developing fetuses. The ultrasound image is produced by the reflection of sound waves bouncing off the structures they hit. Ultrasound imaging has been used for over 20 years and is considered relatively safe.

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions against using ultrasound for non-essential purposes. The concern is that ultrasound waves carry energy that heats tissues and can sometimes produce small gas bubbles in body fluids or tissues. The long-term effects are unknown.

With the use of neonatal ultrasounds increasingly popular and commonplace — many women have multiple ultrasounds throughout their pregnancy — a team from Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia wanted to study potential side effects.

They studied 22 pregnant rabbits, who gave birth to 142 young. Four mother rabbits received no ultrasounds, while the others were exposed to ultrasound for 30 minutes, 60 minutes or 90 minutes once during pregnancy. Each rabbit received only one ultrasound, but the timing was varied throughout the three trimesters of pregnancy to see if there were different effects. The researchers analyzed the baby bunnies' thighbones at one and five months.

Overall, bunnies exposed to ultrasound in the womb had significantly weaker bones than those not exposed. Bones can absorb far more energy than other tissues, which is why ultrasounds can have a disproportionate effect on them.

There were some variations between exposure amount and timing. In the first trimester of pregnancy, the bones have not yet ossified, so they were better able to handle the ultrasound heat. But by the second and third trimesters, the bones are thicker, and so there is a greater impact. The bunnies' bodies were unable to repair the damage and their bones had greater porosity and lower density than control subjects.

The researchers note that many times medical professionals encourage ultrasounds to boost business, and pregnant women enjoy getting the images. However, since rabbit bones are similar to human bones, this and other studies suggest it would be safer to restrict ultrasounds to high-risk pregnancies and other necessary situations, the researchers conclude.

For more information: www.pertanika.upm.edu.my

Related Content

Fujifilm SonoSite Launches New Point-of-Care Ultrasound Educational Resources
News | Ultrasound Imaging | November 01, 2018
Fujifilm SonoSite Inc. announced the launch of its redesigned SonoSite Institute, a comprehensive online educational...
Canon Medical Launches Healthy Sonographer Program
News | Ultrasound Imaging | October 10, 2018
Canon Medical Systems USA Inc. launched an all-new program designed to help reduce the leading causes of pain and...
Fujifilm SonoSite Unveils SonoSite Synchronicity Ultrasound Workflow Solution
Technology | Ultrasound Imaging | October 04, 2018
Fujifilm SonoSite Inc. announced its entry into the medical informatics space with the launch of a robust point-of-care...
GE Healthcare Expands Collaboration With SonoSim for Ultrasound Education
News | Ultrasound Imaging | October 02, 2018
October 2, 2018 — GE Healthcare announced an equity investment in SonoSim, which specializes in...
Clarius Reveals Wireless Cart-Based Ultrasound System at ACEP 2018
News | Ultrasound Imaging | September 28, 2018
Clarius Mobile Health is introducing the Clarius Cart at the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) 2018...
Healcerion Receives FDA Approval for Sonon 300L Handheld Ultrasound Device
Technology | Ultrasound Imaging | July 09, 2018
South Korea-based Healcerion launched the Sonon 300L wireless handheld ultrasound device to the U.S. market following U...
Esaote Change of Ownership Completed
News | Ultrasound Imaging | April 30, 2018
The acquisition of biomedical equipment company Esaote SpA’s share capital was completed on April 19, the company...
Philips Integrates Reacts Tele-Ultrasound Platform on Lumify Portable Systems

Image courtesy of Philips Healthcare

News | Ultrasound Imaging | March 30, 2018
Philips in partnership with Innovative Imaging Technologies (IIT) announced an industry-first integrated tele-...
Toshiba Medical Rolls Out Interactive Learning Tools for Ultrasound and Vascular Training
News | Ultrasound Imaging | December 04, 2017
Toshiba Medical, a Canon Group company, introduced new educational tools and interactive learning resources to help...
Toshiba Medical's Portable Ultrasound Used in Second Pediatric Mission in Tanzania
News | Ultrasound Imaging | October 05, 2017
October 5, 2017 — To provide lifesaving surgical care for sick children in one of the most underserved countries, 13
Overlay Init