If ultrasound was a…

Let’s not beat about the bush; I absolutely love ultrasound. Ever since I picked up some rudimentary ultrasound device to measure bladder volumes when working as an intern on a spinal injuries unit in England, I was hooked. The ability to cast an acoustic eye within someone’s body still continues to impress me 20 years later and ultrasound continues to amaze, thrill and impress me with its understated power and image generating magic.

However, as time passes, I have begun thinking more and more about ultrasound in a different way. What is its ‘style,’ its ‘look’ and its ‘feel’; in essence, what is its ‘personality.’ If it had an emoji, what would it be? How would you describe how ultrasound makes you feel and what images does it conjure up in your mind’s eye? To take this a step further, I have begun toying with the idea of what ultrasound would be if it was something else entirely. To explain what I mean, humor me as you read this blog which gives me the opportunity to explain how I have started to see ultrasound’s ‘personality’ in many different guises….

If Ultrasound was a painter, it would be…

Georgia O’Keefe. Georgia O’Keefe was a radical painter who generated many beautiful images during her life in the early 1900s. She is most famous for her vivid depictions of the New Mexico desert when she lived at her evocatively named ‘Ghost Ranch’ in the middle of the wilderness. Before that, she worked in New York and produced some exquisite images of plants and flowers. My favorite is ‘Abstraction White Rose’ pictured below – and as a pediatric radiologist, you can see why…


© 2017 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

If Ultrasound was a country, it would be…

Sweden. Sweden as a country strikes me as being somewhere rather monochromatic but also somewhere extremely beautiful once the snows clear. This always reminds me of that sinking feeling we all had when learning ultrasound as a trainee. While struggling to generate something vaguely resembling an organ, all one could see was snow. Snow, snow and more snow. Then, without any tweaking of knobs or any change of probe, your teacher would take the transducer from your hand, place it on the patient and generate the most exquisite image. The blizzard clears and a beautiful landscape is revealed.

US and snow

If Ultrasound was an animal, it would be…

A bee. The frenetic to-ings and fro-ings of the portable ultrasound list is exhausting, varied, challenging but also somewhat satisfying. The uniqueness of ultrasound as a tool that can be taken anywhere in the hospital is one of its finest attributes. Like the bumblebee, it flits from patient flower to patient flower gathering the information it needs like pollen, before returning back to the hive for the Queen to marvel as its conquests. I can almost hear the buzzing.


If Ultrasound was a drink, it would be…

A hot Italian latte. Have you ever drunk an Italian latte in a glass and noticed the differing layers of coffee and milk? Doesn’t that remind you of something? If not, you need to do more lung ultrasound.

Seashore and latte

So, what about you? Do you have any favorite ‘if ultrasound was a <blank>, it would be a…’ thoughts? We’d love to hear your favorite connotations and understand how ultrasound resonates (ha – geddit?) with you. Comment below or let us know on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Rob Goodman, MB, BChir, is Professor and Acting Chair of the Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

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