Care of Ultrasound Transducers
This month we are going to examine the care of transducers/probes/scan heads. There are many different manufacturers of transducers today, even within a single manufacturer and the care of these transducers can be confusing.
Let’s begin with a component that is not even a part of the transducer: the system it is connected to. Most transducers have over 100 connecting pins that interface with the transducer interface board on the ultrasound system. Inspect the interface board for bent or broken pins that may damage a transducer plugged into that particular port. Next, inspect the transducer connector itself for bent or broken pins. In either case, remedy any issues or remove the transducer from service immediately as these mechanical failures will spread to other transducers and systems as they are moved around.
Now take a look at the method of cleaning and disinfection used by the department. Are they cleaning the transducers at all? Does the solution they use for disinfection have alcohol as a main ingredient? Some transducers can tolerate alcohol and some cannot. Even with the same system, due to transducers being manufactured in different locations, you may have different care instructions for the various transducers on that system. Always consult the manufacturers’ guidelines for approved methods and solutions.
Moving on to endo-cavity and transesophageal transducers, does the department use a manufacturer-approved disinfecting solution? Are they following the manufacturer’ recommendations as far as what parts can be submerged and how far? Do they follow the guidelines of the solution manufacturer regarding process and soak times? Too often I have seen probes soaking well beyond recommended periods which will damage them. Also, are they inspecting them for integrity breaches prior to soaking? Disinfection solution intrusion will render a transducer unrepairable.
Now take a look at how the transducers are stored and handled. Are they exposed to sharp objects, coiled up tightly, lying on top of the system? Is the floor made of a hard material? You may want to re-think how the probes are stored and placing a mat or throw rug under the system so if a transducer is dropped, it will impact a soft surface.
With the proper care and handling, your ultrasound transducer will give you a long service life so treat them as delicate instruments and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for disinfecting.