I'm back from the radiologist office. We baselined my aorta and happily all my internal plumbing was deamed intact, a most welcome report given the news in my earlier post regarding the death of my nephew, Thomas.
As I usually do when surrounded by technology, I engaged the nurse with questions about the equipement she was using. This particular ultrasound machine was from General Electric and cost around $300,000. I learned that ultrasound hit the mainstream in the 70's and at that time permitted only static images. As computing power increased, real time ultrasound was possible, permitting the analyst to explore interesting images using visual feedback. All of the images they took today were digital (I observed with no little trepidation that their image servers ran an older operating system from a certain company in Redmond...oh how I hope they are fastidious in downloading the latest of the continuous flood of patches). The user interface with the system seemed clumsy, with the nurse having to take her hands off the probe to type from time to time. I'm told that the next generation machines permit voice input, thus freeing the operator's hands and streamlining the process (the nurse has to mark certain interesting features so that things like aorta diameter and wall size can be determined). I was also told that this next generation was just a software upgrade away; they'd be able to preserve their investment in the hardware.
Indeed, software is everywhere. In the past x-rays would use traditonal film, but in my test today, the machine took digital imaages directly.