Characteristics of the audio sound generated by ultrasound imaging systems

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13 Scopus citations


Medical ultrasound scanners use high-energy pulses to probe the human body. The radiation force resulting from the impact of such pulses on an object can vibrate the object, producing a localized high-intensity sound in the audible range. Here, a theoretical model for the audio sound generated by ultrasound scanners is presented. This model describes the temporal and spectral characteristics of the sound. It has been shown that the sound has rich frequency components at the pulse repetition frequency and its harmonics. Experiments have been conducted in a water tank to measure the sound generated by a clinical ultrasound scanner in various operational modes. Results are in general agreement with the theory. It is shown that a typical ultrasound scanner with a typical spatial-peak pulse-average intensity value at 2 MHz may generate a localized sound-pressure level close to 100 dB relative to 20 μPa in the audible (<20 kHz) range under laboratory conditions. These findings suggest that fetuses may become exposed to a high-intensity audio sound during maternal ultrasound examinations. Therefore, contrary to common beliefs, ultrasound may not be considered a passive tool in fetal imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1448-1455
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3 I
StatePublished - Mar 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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