Feb 25, 2018
Welcome to the Why Urology Podcast.
This podcast is my personal exploration of the field of urology. My hope is that you learn something about your genitourinary tract, what can go wrong, and how your urologist can try to fix it.
In episode 44 we explored how ultrasound is used in the field of urology. Almost every organ in the urology field can be visualized by ultrasound to try to identify tumors, cysts, infections, changes in blood flow, and other causes for aches, pains, and swelling.
Ultrasonography utilizes the principles and physics of sound propagation and reflection to create the pictures that we see. A sound will travel through a substance until it reaches something of a different density. Sound will then be reflected as a form of echo. An ultrasound utilizes a transducer that emits ultrasonic waves through a person’s body. When sound waves contact tissues of different density some are reflected back to the transducer which also acts as a receiver. By measuring the sound reflected back to the transducer a map of tissue density can be created and displayed on a screen print it as an image.
This is episode number 45 and I want to introduce you to the “Father of Medical Ultrasound,” Dr. John J. Wild (1914-2009).
Dr. John Wild is a man I would have like to have met in person.
Dr. Wild wrote this of himself, "I think I must have come into this world with a propensity for making chaos out of order, since I always seem to be upsetting those concerned with maintaining conventional levels of orderliness and humbleness. . . . In my ultrasonic work I have met many people who did not believe the evidence of their own eyes even when the miracles of pulse-echo ultrasound were demonstrated to them."
But others had a different opinion. I quote an obituary I found online: “To his patients, friends and some colleagues he is remembered as kind, entertaining, and galvanizingly brilliant.”
According to another online obituary his discovery can be summed up as follows: “In 1949 he made the groundbreaking discovery that sonic energy (pulse-echo ultrasound) was reflected as echoes from soft biological tissues [when he] tinkered with military and aircraft equipment that included ultrasonic capabilities. Realizing the significance of the discovery, [he] went on to pioneer a new field of medicine, and produced the first real-time ultrasonic images of a living human patient.”
In the 1600s, British polymath Robert Hooke predicted we would be able to listen to the internal sounds of a person to determine what ailed them. In the latter half of the 20th century Dr. John J. Wild made it happen.
Let’s hear how he did it.
Inventive Minds: Creativity in Technology, edited by Robert J Weber and David N. Perkins, 1992.
Chapter 6 written by John J Wild “The Origin of Soft Tissue Ultrasonic Echoing and Early Instrumental Application to clinical Medicine.” pg. 115.