Proper Care and Handling of Tee Probes
By Jim Rickner, Global Training Director
While travelling from hospital to hospital, there seems to be a common theme … How can we improve on our return on investment? In terms of ultrasound equipment, concentrating on the TEE probe can make a considerable difference in a hospital’s ROI. Repairs alone for a TEE transducer can run in excess of $4,000, while refurbished probes go for more than $7,000, and new can go for $28,000. Taking the time to properly train your staff regarding the proper techniques for cleaning, transporting and inspection can potentially save your facility thousands of dollars. Let’s discuss some good practices that can prevent TEE probe damage.
While it’s mandatory to clean the probe after each use, it is recommended to use a pre-cleaner to remove mucous or bioburden prior to disinfection. Refer to the OEM manual to find the appropriate cleaners for each probe. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for cleaning. Do not leave the transducer in disinfecting solution for longer than recommended by the manufacturer and never store it in the disinfectant solution. Staining may occur on the guide tube but the probe is still 100% functional. Aggressive disinfectants or improper coupling gels can cause this staining. Although discoloration does not affect the quality of performance of the probe it may reduce the life span. It’s important to consult the OEM user manual for proper use of gels and cleaners.
TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE
After the probe has been used, place the transducer shaft up to, but not including, the control housing in a bio-hazard bag. During this phase of transport, pay particular attention to protecting the transducer tip as it is very fragile. After disinfection it is recommended to transport the probe in the carrying case from one location to another. If shipping the disinfected probe, place it in a thick plastic bag and pack it in the original shipping case. For additional protection, place the shipping container in a heavy duty box.
A thorough inspection is a vital part of the process that leads to cost savings. The earlier damage can be identified, the more likely it can be repaired, leading to huge savings. The inspection should go from tip to connector, carefully examining every portion of the probe. Inspect the lens for damage. Make sure there is no tear or separation at the flexible tube allowing fluid to get inside. Do a visual and physical inspection of the insertion tube for damage such as bite marks. These may be found by feeling rather than seeing. Make sure the controls on the housing are working correctly. The chord should be free of damage, including the strain reliefs on both ends. Lastly, inspect the connector for bent pins or warped housing. The number one reason for damage to a TEE probe is because it gets dropped. Remember, early detection is key to prevent further damage to the probe. If you follow a strict plan regarding the proper cleaning techniques, correct transportation and storage along with a robust inspection procedure, your facility can save thousands of dollars on unnecessary probe repair or replacement.
FOR MORE INFORMATION regarding probe care and handling please download our TEE Probe Care and Handling poster at www.ConquestImaging.com.