'Ultrasound is ingrained in modern medical practice' - Dr Theresa Compton

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What do you think has been a revolutionary invention that changed the way we live?

Five top academics from the University of Plymouth were invited to argue for a revolutionary invention that changed the world, as part of our Revolutions season. Dr Theresa Compton draws from her medical practice experience to campaign for ultrasound scanning.

Almost everyone alive today was first glimpsed by the world before even being born. The ultrasound scan is so ingrained in modern pregnancy, so widespread in everyday medical practice, and in the parents’ wider social interactions, that we take this incredible technology for granted.
Ultrasound scanning has revolutionised obstetric practice. Observations from scans can be used to act and prevent harm to mum and baby. If ultrasound scans pick up congenital abnormalities, then there’s even the possibility to operate in utero. We can better prepare parents for all eventualities, with a clear understanding of what is happening and why, and offer a better system of support from an earlier stage in the pregnancy – a luxury not available to parents in the past.
Outside obstetrics, ultrasound can detect abdominal problems like gall stones or pancreatic cancer, and it can in some instances treat issues too, without operating. Compared to other screening methods like MRI or CT, ultrasound is safe for everyone and has incredibly low risk. These newer technologies evolved from the desire to see inside and understand the human body without cutting it open.

Theresa Compton is a Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, covering anatomy, physiology and pathology in the Life Sciences Resource Centre among other roles. As a medically qualified doctor, her academic techniques draw from this experience to support medical school students. Theresa has invested time in improving development and wellbeing for medical professionals through reviewing tutoring practices, receiving awards for her teaching methods this year. She advocates for game-based learning and alternative resources to encourage interactive teaching.

Will ultrasound steal the show over paper, transistors, photography or semi-conductors? The cases have all been made, and you can join the big debate on Tuesday 6 February at The House. Follow the conversation online with #RevInventions.

'Revolutionary Inventions' season at Peninsula Arts

Recognising that the revolutionary theme not only speaks to political change, we asked our programmers and academic colleagues to think about revolution in terms of inventions – those life-changing, ingenious and innovative inventions that alter the course of history forever. Of course technological inventions do not happen in isolation, they are often linked to social and cultural shifts with one usually preceding the other. Our programme attempts to look at these cultural and technological connections.

It is also important to remember that inventions are just that – invented – they are constructs of human interactions and relations, borne out of questioning, observation, study and sometimes argument.

Animal Condensed by Jennet Thomas