User manuals and service manuals distributed by Original Equipment Manufacturers stress the importance of frequent visual inspections of ultrasound probes. None actually provide good, solid guidance for performing thorough standard ultrasound probe inspections.
Sonographers and echo techs are encouraged to visually inspect each probe prior to and after each use. Do you believe that it occurs? Think again. Typically, probes are used until they experience a functional problem. That’s ok, the service engineer will catch problems on the next PM, right? But when is that? How often is a PM performed?
Service engineers should also be visually inspecting probes during each scanner’s preventive maintenance inspection. If your ultrasound departments are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR), American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), or the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC), periodic visual inspections are even more important and are part of the accreditation process.
According to our data…
- Visual inspections are NOT occurring at the frequency needed, OR
- Visual inspections are NOT thorough enough, OR
- Corrective action is NOT being initiated as a result of a concern
Visual Inspections from an OEM perspective
An excerpt from one OEMs user manual is as follows. Before each use, inspect the probe’s lens, cable, casing, and connector. Look for any damage that would allow liquid to enter the probe. Test the functionality of the probe. After each use, inspect the probe’s lens, cable, casing, and connector. Look for any damage that would allow liquid to enter the probe. The service manual adds.… During a PM, clean probes and probe cables and check the acoustic lens housing (cracks) and probe cables. In case of mechanical damage, do not use them! That’s it !
Tools for you and your clinicians
The above leaves a lot up to interpretation, and how bad is bad? We’ve developed tools for both sonographers as well as service engineers. Our visual inspection guide shows sonographers what to look for, and the effects of not addressing, what seem to be, minor issues. This guide is best placed in each scan room to keep the importance of standard ultrasound probe inspections top-of-mind. The guide is available in hard copy upon request, but can be downloaded below.
We went one step further
We created a video on how to perform thorough standard ultrasound probe inspections. It’s a great resource for those new to ultrasound as well as those interested in learning from the probe experts at Innovatus. Check it out.