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As part of my AS physics coursework I went on a trip to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The purpose of this trip was to find out the physics involved in Hospital equipment, which is used on patients

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As part of my AS physics coursework I went on a trip to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The purpose of this trip was to find out the physics involved in Hospital equipment, which is used on patients. I learnt about three different areas where physics is involved. I learnt how physics is involved in Nuclear Medicine, Radiotherapy and Ultra Sound. I will discuss briefly about how physics is used in Nuclear Medicine and I will discuss in greater detail how physics is involved in Ultra Sound.

Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear physics involves looking at the nucleus of an atom. It involves injecting a highly radioactive material into the body and allowing it to decay. There are positives and negatives in this because nuclear medicine can be used for diagnosis, which can determine functions of an organ or can for simple therapy. On the other hand though radioactive materials are not good for you and so if diseased tissue comes in contact with you then it can cause problems. Using radioactive sources can kill of tumours though. It travels only shallowly into the body and can kill of all the cancerous cells. The unfortunate thing is that it can also kill of healthy tissue.

What Is Ultra Sound?

Ultra sound is sound with a frequency of over 20,000 Hz, which is a very high limit of human hearing. So therefore humans have a lower limit of hearing and so cannot hear ultrasound.

Ultra Sound examinations are second to X-Rays. Ultra Sound examinations involve a transducer being coupled to the skin by a jelly. The jelly stops ultra sonic waves passing through air and scattering onto the skin. The waves are passed through the tissue and are then passed from various parts of the body.

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They are emitted from a transducer which is placed in contact with the maternal abdomen and is moved to look at any particular content of the uterus. Repetitive arrays of ultrasound beans scan the foetus inn thin slices and are reflected on the same transducer.

How is this benefiting?

The information obtained from different reflections are recomposed back into a picture on the monitor. Movements such as foetal heart beats or malformations of the foetus can be seen. All this can be assessed and measurements are made accurately on the images displaced on the screen. Such as  measurements of size and growth in the foetus.

Why and when is ultra sound used in pregnancy.

Ultra sound scan is currently considered to be safe it is accurate and very cost effective investigation of the foetus. This plays an important role in pregnant women.

What about safety?.

It has been over 40 years since ultra sound was first used  on pregnant women. Large amount of studies show that apparent ill effects such as low birth weights speech and hearing problems brain damage and non right handedness is reported. The complexity of some of the studies have made the observations difficult to interpritate. Every now and then ill effects of ultrasound on the foetus appears as news items. The main areas of concern are the use of pulsed Doppler.

 Doppler Ultra sound.

Doppler ultrasound is based upon the Doppler Effect. When the object moves ultra sound waves are moving it changes the frequency of the echoes. Doppler ultrasound measures the change in frequency of the echo and how fast the object is moving. This is only used for the rate of blood flow through the heart and major arteries.            

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A good 3-D image is often very impressive to the parents And further 2-D scans may be extracted from 3-D blocks of scanned information.  Volumetric measurements are more accurate and both doctors and parents can better appreciate a certain abnormality or the absence of a certain abnormality in a 3-D scan than a 2-D scan one and there is the possibility of increasing psychological bonding between the parents and the baby.

An increasing volume of literature is building on the usefulness of 3-D scans and the diagnosis of congenital anomalies could receive revived attention. bg Evidence has already suggested that smaller defects such as spina bifida, cleft lips/palate and polydactyl may be more lucidly demonstrated.  Other more subtle features such as low set ears, facial dysmorphia or clubbing of feet can be better assessed leading to more effective diagnosis of chromosomal abnormalities.  The ability to produce good pictures is still dependant on operator skills, the symniotic fluid around the foetus it’s position and the degree of maternal obesity so that a good image is not always readily obtainable.  Most recently 4-D or dynamic 3-D scanners are on the market resulting in reports of it’s importance in mother and baby bonding and the attraction of seeing the baby’s face and movements before birth.

Researching the area nuclear physics has broadened my understanding of the word ‘nuclear’.  As a I child I have only been told it’s uses as a bad thing such as nuclear weapons, a powerful gas which kills all living organisms.  The use of nuclear in medical developments is not only developing in safer use but also for advanced cure of many developing diseases, to try and detect them in early stages.  ‘The Enemy is your Friend’.

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Response to the question

To what extent has the student answered the set question? How explicit is their response?

This response is coherent and well structured explaining the physics involved in hospital equipment, showing that they clearly understand the areas and they are ...

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Response to the question

To what extent has the student answered the set question? How explicit is their response?

This response is coherent and well structured explaining the physics involved in hospital equipment, showing that they clearly understand the areas and they are able assess the benefits and risks of it each therapy used in medicine such as adverse side effects of radiation therapy. The student displays good evaluation of the ultrasound and radiation therapy by refering to their significance in hospitals, what patients experience, role in the future and practicality. However in the development of the future section towards the end, the student could briefly define the conjenital anomalies mentioned such as spina bifida and also mention any sources in a bibliography so we know its not just copied directly from a source. The statistics used must be referenced so that the student can assess how reliable the data is.

Level of analysis

To what extent does the writer show appropriate analytical skills for this level of qualification? Have they made evaluative judgements using suitable evidence? Have these examples been developed throughout the response and has an appropriate conclusion been reached?

Throughout the response, the writer has written concisely providing information on defining the different methods used such as the Doppler Ultrasound, the measurements made, how its carried out and the safety of it to the patient. However at times, the level of detail is more of a GCSE standard rather than a piece of A level coursework. Although there are critical evaluative judgements of benefits and risks of the medical therapy, evidence is not provided to support their claim. The summary at the end of each section is wonderful; portrays the student not only has knowledge about the response but also can summarise it concisely.

Is the writing accurate in terms of spelling, grammar and punctuation? Has the writer used technical terms expected at this level of qualification? To what extent does the writer follow conventions and expectations for written work at this level?

The use of technical terms is well done; most of the scientifical terms used is defined and explained. The use of spelling, grammar and punctuation is good and meets the requirements of what is expected at A level. The student has structured it well but there are many sentences by its self in a paragraph that could've been added to another paragraph to make it easier to follow. The conclusion reflects what effect the trip had on the student but the phrase 'the enemy is your friend' is unnecessary I think.

Quality of writing

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