Ultrasound Software Issues

When I began servicing ultrasound systems, software was not loaded onto hard drives but burned onto EPROMS so software did not become corrupt and when you performed a software upgrade/update, you had to replace dozens of chips on several circuit boards.

This all changed about a decade ago when systems began running mainly Windows and UNIX with the OEMs applications software layered on top.

We began to see the dreaded “blue screen of death,” lockups, corruption and, now that there were moving parts, hard drive failures.

Nowadays, the vast majority of ultrasound systems have one or more hard drives and experience regular failures. How do we prevent these failures or perform rapid repairs when they do occur?

First we want to ensure we have the software that the system is currently running. Some OEMs will supply it with the systems and some require a purchase. If you are in a purchasing cycle for systems, ensure the software (and service manuals, training etc.) are included in the negotiations. If you do not currently have it, make an inventory of all the different revisions of software you have and purchase it from the OEM and keep them in a central location for team members to access.

Next, please backup as much as possible on your system. The bare essentials are the presets and options but you can also create a backup of the entire hard disk to restore the system at a later date. This does have to be performed for every system you have for both technical and legal reasons and can be time consuming but in the event of a failure, these backups are a lifesaver as you can completely restore a system in as little as an hour. Also, by having these backups, you do not have to complete all the steps for a software reload or worry about options files or presets since they are all in your complete backup.

Please keep in mind that when a software reload is indicated, always perform on a new drive and preserve the old one. This way, if the load does not take or you need vital data from the old drive later on, there is a chance you can retrieve it. Also, if a drive has failed once, it is likely to fail again.

Software issues seem complicated but if you prepare ahead of time, you can minimize downtime and FTE hours.

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