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Is ultrasound technology cheaper compared to x-ray technology?

  1. Jun 29, 2005 #1
    is ultrasound technology cheaper compared to x-ray technology?

    is it easier to construct?

    for example the ones to probe foetus in pregnant females.

    what is the advantage for using ultrasound for probing foetus compared to x-ray, apart from safety issue?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 29, 2005 #2


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    Ultrasound is cheaper than X-rays. But the motive to use ultrasound to see the foetus of a pregnant woman is security and not price.
    X-rays are ionizing radiation and so can cause chemical reactions on the cells, including DNA. X-rays are dangerous to everybody, but a foetus is much more susceptible to genetical alterations then an adult. X-rays apparatus existed before the development of ultrasound scanners, but they where not used in pregnant women because of the danger to the foetus.
  4. Jun 29, 2005 #3
    If by cheaper you are asking if hospitals charge less for an ultrasound exam than for an x-ray exam, I think in most cases it would be no.

    If by cheaper you are asking of an ultrasound unit costs less to by than an x-ray unit, then it would depend on the particular application, but in many cases it would be yes.

    Ultrasound is frequently used to image soft tissues, which conventional x-ray imaging isn't all that great at. For fetal imaging, ultrasound is commonly used to assess the progress of the developing fetus. Radiation safety issues aside, x-ray imaging wouldn't be terribly useful for this purpose, although you could see the bones of the fetus.

    And x-rays were once used to image the pelvis and fetus in an exam called pelvimetry. It still might get performed once in a while, but not very often.

    While x-rays can be hazardous to your health in sufficient quantity, the brief exposure form a diagnostic exam isn't going to result in any immediate adverse effect to the patient or fetus and presents only a miniscule increased risk of long term development of anything (cancer is what most people worry about)
  5. Jun 29, 2005 #4


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    If ultrasound is cheaper, it simply means it is more profitable for the hospital. :biggrin:

    I would repeat SGT's point, X-rays are ionizing, and yes the exposure is limited - HOWEVER, the fetus is undergoing a high rate of cell growth (mitosis) at an early stage of development, and even a short term exposure will have potentially significant consequences for all cells that subsequently develop.

    IIRC, the medical establishment prefers to limit X-ray exposure to humans under 18. As one approaches 18, the growth (mitotic) rate slows and there is less chance of a problem.

    Clearly in the case of some illnesses, it is advantageous to use X-ray in order to treat the health threat of illness.
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