The History of Computerized Ultrasound

September 15, 2006

OBGYN.net Conference CoverageFrom AIUM 44th Conference held in San Francisco, California - April, 2000

Terry DuBose, M.S.: "Hi, this is Terry DuBose and we’re at the 44th Annual AIUM Conference in San Francisco. I’m the Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Ultrasound section of OBGYN.net and at the right is Dr. Blackwell from Lubbock, Texas. He is one of the newest members of the Editorial Advisory Board and will help us peer review articles and submit articles, I hope on history. Dr. Blackwell and I have had a long acquaintance mainly by long distance on the Internet and e-mail and he has a phenomenal resource of history and was one of the first people I know of to use personal PC’s to write his own program to analyze fetal development. I’m going to ask him to tell us a little bit about the history of sonography, where we are, and where we’re going."

Dr. David Blackwell: "Thanks, Terry. Just to say a little bit about how I got into the field, I was actually a neurology resident and a piece of equipment showed up on the doorstep at Bowman Gray. I asked if anyone wanted to work with this - it was an ultrasound thing. I never heard of ultrasound but it sounded interesting so I volunteered, and maybe everybody else took a step backwards or something. It turned out to be Spencer and Reed’s unit for looking at carotid arteries using a combination of Doppler and what have you. So I did that for about eight months and we got a paper out of it about screening people for stroke, it actually turned out to be a very useful piece of equipment. Then Bowman Gray started a training program for all aspects of ultrasound. Back then, as we talked a little bit about earlier, it was nobody’s discipline in particular, it was whoever saw a use for it. And Bill McKinney, MD, who was my mentor at Bowman Gray was certainly one of the pioneers that dragged many of us kicking and screaming into the field for which we are now, of course, eternally grateful. So I came into the field sort of through the back door as many people did when it was a new thing and ended up in a radiology department where I do a little bit of everything now, again, not a whole lot of obstetrics, some gynecology. My interest here is basically the prospect of having a forum on the Internet where I can get information about the history of ultrasound and share the information that I’ve accumulated - some of it by personal experience. The gray in this beard is there for a reason, and then see who else is out there that might have information that we could put together into something useful."

Terry DuBose, M.S.: "I think that would be real interesting. I keep looking for it to mature and then this is dynamic now than it was 25 years ago."

Dr. David Blackwell: "As we saw yesterday with a new piece of equipment that basically plugs in and is an accessory to your laptop computer. Just when I think they can’t possibly do anything else with it, something else that may change the whole playing field comes along."

Terry DuBose, M.S.: "You do a lot of obstetricals don’t you and you say mainly gynecologic now?"

Dr. David Blackwell: "Mostly gynecologic now, we still do some obstetrics, second opinions, referrals, things like that, it’s still one of my favorite things to do. I still think it’s the most interesting chess game within ultrasound as you just never know what you’re going to encounter, and it’s also a place where the people encounter is really important. One thing that interests me about ultrasound as opposed to a lot of the other imaging modalities is how much contact time you actually have with the patient in which you can talk, discuss, and often get a better history than anybody else has gotten not because you’re a better physician but because you literally are 20-30 minutes at the bedside and they’ve had time to think. So we often can actually be helpful not only with the images we provide but also by actually finding out a little bit more about what’s on the patients’ mind and what concerns them. I think there’s a real chance to bring high-tech and high-touch together because we do have this where we literally are rubbing jelly on people’s bellies as well as getting the high-tech image on the screen."

Terry DuBose, M.S.: "Right, it is a high-touch intimate sort of thing."

Dr. David Blackwell: "Yes, I think we can emphasize that, that’s one thing that we try to do in our lab. The last thing I say to any our patients when they leave is - I’m going to let you get dressed, have a chance to think, if the husband or wife is with them, a chance to talk to each other, and then if you have any questions I’ll be here. Most of the time they don’t but if they do then I think it means a degree of closure to the encounter, and we feel good about that. I think the patients go away feeling that they at least had the chance to have their questions answered of course, we can’t always answer all of them."

Terry DuBose, M.S.: "Dr. Blackwell, I appreciate it and welcome aboard."

Dr. David Blackwell: "Thank you very much."

Terry DuBose, M.S.: "Very glad to hear from you and hope to have more discussion on the history. I find that very interesting the way it’s all developed."

Dr. David Blackwell: "I’ll look forward to that."

Terry DuBose, M.S.: "Fortunately, we haven’t lost that many of the people who founded this profession yet."

Dr. David Blackwell: "No, but many of my peers are beginning to retire."

Terry DuBose, M.S.: "But we need to get those histories down before they’re gone."

Dr. David Blackwell: "That’s right."

Terry DuBose, M.S.: "We’ll look for you to do that, thanks."

Dr. David Blackwell: "Thank you very much."