What to use instead of ultrasound gel. Alternatives ?

What Can You Use Instead of Ultrasound Gel – Alternatives?

Diagnostic ultrasound utilizes high-frequency sound waves to produce images of body internal organs and soft tissues. But sound waves don’t travel very well through the air, thus, the need some ultrasound gel. This formula serves as a conductive medium that covers tiny pockets of air in the skin, enabling a tight bond between the skin and the transducer. While a specialized type of gel is used for this procedure, there are many substitutes that serve the same purpose.

Alternatives to Ultrasound Gel

1. KY Jelly

One of the most common ultrasound gel alternatives, KY Jelly is a water-based and water-soluble product that is used as a personal lubricant. It is also used for prostate and gynecological examinations. 

2. Bio Oil

This skincare product is marketed as a way to lessen scars, stretch marks, and other skin problems like uneven skin tone. It can be purchased online and in local pharmaceutical stores.

3. Moisturizers & Creams

Compared to lubricants and oil-based products, skin moisturizers and body lotions don’t transmit sound waves very well, thus, producing less clear images. However, it is widely available and are usually cheaper than other ultrasound gel alternatives.

4. Hand Sanitizer

Another low-cost alternative for specialized ultrasound gel or echo gel are hand sanitizers. In a 2013 study presented before the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) in New York City, researchers concluded that hand sanitizers work well in ultrasound diagnostics and could work well in developing countries where radiology budgets are tight.

 Check out our recently-gathered Blog Post on Sanitizer gels and Sprays ( 3 receipts included)


5. Skin Gel or Aloe Vera

Some people make use of aloe vera and similar gels especially for consumer-grade ultrasound machines like the fetal Doppler. It works like lubricants and hand sanitizers. They are cheaper and widely available too.

Is it safe to use these ultrasound gel substitutes?

One major concern many consumers and even clinicians have with medical-grade ultrasound gels is the cost, which is why they resort to using the said alternatives. However, the use of these products comes with some risks too.

  • Unreliable diagnostics results


Most clinics prefer medical-grade echo gels over alternatives primarily because of the image quality, which is critical in diagnosing fetal defects during pregnancy. High-quality echo gels are dye-free and do not contain additives that may interfere with the transducer’s reading. Such specialized clear gel therefore produces images that are much clearer and accurate than other dye-containing products.

  • Skin Irritation/Allergic Reactions

Ultrasound gel substitutes may not be ideal for people with sensitive skin. Women, in particular, may develop sudden allergic reactions to certain creams and body lotions during pregnancy, which is often a result of the massive hormonal changes they go through. Specialized gels used for ultrasounds don’t contain impure additives that could irritate the skin. This is why they are generally safer and better for people with skin sensitivity issues.

  • Machine Damage

The worst possible consequence, which is also the most expensive, is the damage that these alternative products could cause in the machine, particularly the transducer. This device alone could cost between $2,000 and $15,000. Poor-quality gels can result in machine damage, not to mention that using the right gel allows the transducer to receive an optimal signal. Also, make sure to use the right disinfectant wipes to disinfect the machine and avoid damages.

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Coupling agents are specialized ultrasound supplies that serve as a conductive medium between the skin and the transducer. They are essential in carrying the sound waves/signal so the ultrasound machine can accurately capture images inside the body. While there are specialized echo gels available in the market, there are alternatives that serve the same purpose, such as JY jelly, bio-oil, moisturizers and creams, and even hand sanitizers. However, these substitutes may not be as effective as the real ultrasound coupling agents for reasons that they could not produce clear and accurate readings, could cause harm to patients with skin sensitivity problems, and may ultimately damage the machine. Ultrasound diagnostic echo gels may be a little more pricey than their alternatives, but in terms of efficiency and safety, they are practically irreplaceable.



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