An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to produce ultrasound images of what is happening inside a person’s body. Ultrasound imaging has different uses in medicine such as diagnosing specific medical conditions and guiding the physicians in applying accurate medical tools and procedures to treat patients. Though the basic procedures in ultrasound imaging are the same, there are different types of ultrasound that you need to know.
- Standard Ultrasound – This is the most common type of ultrasound where a transducer is used to create two-dimensional images of the baby inside the womb.
- Advanced Ultrasound - To have a more distinct view of the problem areas, more advanced equipment is utilized during the test. If there is an unusual growth seen during the standard test, the doctor may need to use advanced ultrasound.
- Doppler Ultrasound – This type of ultrasound technology helps to assess the changes in ultrasound waves to monitor specific movements in the body such as blood flow.
- Transvaginal Ultrasound – This ultrasound test is normally done during the first pregnancy weeks where the fetus is small enough to be viewed using standard ultrasound technology. The result of the images in this type of ultrasound is often clearer because the ultrasound waves don’t need to pass through fat or bone before it reaches the uterus.
- 3-D Ultrasound – Instead of flat two-dimensional images, 3-D ultrasound produces three-dimensional images using computer software or a specially-designed probe.
- 4-D Ultrasound – This type of ultrasound shows three-dimensional images in motion and is usually done right before giving birth.
- Fetal Echocardiography – It is basically used to check and monitor the functions of the heart. When a patient is suspected to have congenital heart problems, this type of ultrasound is utilized.
Regardless of the type of ultrasound that is going to apply, ultrasound imaging has the same benefits for patients.
- Generally, it is painless as it does not require incisions or injections.
- Patients won’t be exposed to ionizing radiation that can be harmful to babies, making ultrasound technologies both safe and reliable.
- It captures clear images of soft tissues that X-rays usually can’t.
- The procedure is faster than other imaging methods and is usually done in 20 minutes or less.
- Because probes have no exposure to chemicals, staff can multitask and do the procedure efficiently without any distraction.
- Because the procedure is fast and efficient, doctors and staff can save time and use them to look after more patients.
- Ultrasound imaging is extensively accessible and is cheaper than other imaging methods.
Ultrasound Probe Disinfection
Cleaning and disinfecting the ultrasound probe is very important to assure the safety of patients. Some people think that cleaning and disinfecting are the same but in fact, they are two different things that doctors and staff should apply all the time. Apparently, cleaning is simply removing dirt or waste particles while disinfecting is getting rid of germs that may cause infections.
For ultrasound transducers, high-level disinfection is required. The cleaning and disinfecting products used in ultrasound probes should be free of harsh and harmful chemicals and as much as possible, they should be close to neutral PH. Essentially, cleaning and disinfecting ultrasound probes should be done before and after use to prevent the transfer of germs to patients. While ultrasound probe disinfection is generally important to prevent infections, there are many other reasons why professional treatment is necessary for medical equipment.
- The ultrasound probe disinfection process ensures the effectiveness and efficiency of probes.
- Proper care and handling of ultrasound probes maximize their life and performance.
- Cleaning and disinfecting make ultrasound probes reliable and durable.
- Ultrasound probe disinfection also prevents damages to the equipment.
- It prevents exposure to harsh chemicals for patients and health care professionals.
- It also helps save time due to low maintenance and easy usage.
- It helps hospitals and health care centers save money from buying new probes every now and then due to damages.
- Cleaning and disinfecting ultrasound probes help in increasing the margin of safety and killing the microbes much faster.
Ultrasound Probe Types
Also known as transducers, ultrasound probes have many types for different purposes. They come in different sizes and shapes and are used in different areas of the body. Basically, the ultrasound transducer is placed on the patient’s body and moved to the area that needs to be viewed. Because water is known to initiate sound waves, a water-based ultrasound gel is used to assess the movements of the ultrasound waves. Doctors use various types of ultrasound probes based on the patient’s condition.
- Linear Probes – This type of ultrasound probes make ultrasound imaging reliable and highly accurate. They are high in frequency, producing better imaging results. They are also called vascular probes and are often used to scan small parts and structures such as thyroid in the neck. Linear probes require the use of an ultrasound probe cleaner and a disinfectant solution for proper cleaning and disinfection.
- Endocavitary probes – Like linear probes, endocavitary probes also have high frequency and produce high-quality and clear images. They have a long handle and U-shaped lens which give them less depth range than other ultrasound probes. Like the linear probes, endocavity probes also require efficient and safe ultrasound probe disinfection.
- Convex Probes – Their curved array allows a wider view of the area being scanned. Also called curved linear probes, this type of ultrasound probe is widely used for abdominal scans due to their deeper and wider view. Like other ultrasound probe types, convex probes also need safe, efficient and clean handling as well as proper storage.
- Cardiac Probes/Phased Array Probes – Cardiac probes are used to scan images of the heart. Though their handle is smaller, they have a greater depth which enables them to reach the heart and create an accurate and clear image. To clean and disinfect cardiac probes, one will need clean dry cloth, a soft brush, an ultrasound probe cleaner or a nonabrasive detergent.
- Transesophageal (TEE) Probes – They are cardiac type probes that move in 4 directions and have handle controls. They are inserted into the patient’s esophagus and into their stomach to produce an obstructive image of the heart. Transesophageal probes require a high level of ultrasound probe disinfection as they are inserted deep into the patient’s body, which may cause infections if not cleaned and disinfected well. More than wiping and spray cleaning, this type of probes also needs the use of ultrasound probe cleaners for more effective disinfection. Also, it is important to disconnect the probes from the scanner before cleaning and disinfecting them.
- Transvaginal Probes – Transvaginal probes are the most common types of probes used in pregnant women. The probes are inserted into the patient’s vagina to use the sound waves and produce images of the baby. They are also used to check the heartbeat of the baby and the patient’s placenta. Because these probes are inserted to the patient’s private part of the body, they need high-level disinfection with the use of probe disinfection cleaners.
- 3D/4D Ultrasound Probes – Though they function like 2D probes, 3D and 4D probes move in a sweeping motion and capture the images into slices and from different sides, allowing a clear and more accurate image viewing. These captured slices are put together to create a 3D still image. A 4D live image is also possible with these types of probes, making them extremely reliable in scanning images and assessing various medical conditions. Because they are very reliable, disinfecting them should be a priority to prevent them from damages and infections.