Seeing with Sound: How Ultrasound Is Changing the Way We Look at Anatomy

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019;1138:47-56. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-14227-8_4.


Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves and their rebounding echoes to capture live images of the structures beneath the skin. Thanks to recent technological advances, contemporary ultrasound machines offer excellent image resolution packaged in smaller, highly portable devices, which has allowed ultrasound to expand into new areas, both within the hospital as well as across non-traditional settings. Ultrasound is an incredibly powerful visualization tool in medicine, allowing physicians to safely see and interrogate the most relevant parts of their patient's internal anatomy instantly. Point-of-care ultrasound, a focused ultrasound evaluation performed at the patient's bedside, is now common across medical specialties, encompassing a vast array of diagnostic, procedural and screening applications. The impressive expansion of point-of-care ultrasound has resulted in an increased demand for ultrasound training earlier during medical school. As a non-invasive and non-destructive way to see inside the living body, ultrasound is an ideal tool to teach anatomy. It allows both medical and non-medical students the ability to improve their understanding and retention of anatomical form and function. The widespread and still expanding use of ultrasound in healthcare today, as well as its adoption into the anatomy classroom, is a testament to the power of ultrasound for achieving real-time visualization of the hidden aspects of our bodies.

Keywords: Bedside ultrasound; Gross anatomy education; Medical education; Medical imaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy / education*
  • Anatomy / methods
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Ultrasonography*