Ultrasound (US) is extensively used in the medical field for its therapeutic and diagnostic applications. US units are commonly found in hospitals and clinics of all sizes, and a growing number of medical staff such as doctors and nurses are exposed to hand-transmitted ultrasound waves in their work-place. This review discusses the available information on the occupational risk of the operators using diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound devices. The new occupational groups of medical workers who use ultrasound (diagnostic, surgical, sterilization, and physiotherapeutic) equipment are exposed to contact ultrasound waves. Contact ultrasound -- i.e., no airspace between the energy source and the biological tissue -- is much more hazardous than exposure to airborne ultrasound because air transmits less than one percent of this kind of energy. In spite of being a non-ionizing radiation with an excellent safety record, US is likely to induce some changes in the exposed organ. Recent Russian studies indicate that the hospital workers who have been long exposed to ultrasound at work may develop neurovascular dose-dependent disorders of the peripheral nervous system in the form of the angiodystonic syndrome of vegetative polyneuritis of the hands. In some Scandinavian studies, female physiotherapists (exposed to ultrasound and short waves) exhibit increased rate of spontaneous abortions and congenital malformations, but no definite conclusion can be drawn on the basis of these results alone. Trends in exposure for diagnostic ultrasound equipment over the last two decades show a continuous increase. While there is no reason for alarm, there is a growing need for avoiding unnecessary exposure to medical workers.
|Translated title of the contribution||Occupational risk caused by ultrasound in medicine|
|Number of pages||5|
|Publication status||Published - Jul 1994|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging