How It Works: Abdominal Ultrasound Probes and Transducers
In our “How it Works” blog article series, we discuss and elaborate on many different types of ultrasound probes and transducers, ultrasound features (including doppler and various ultrasound modes), and more. This article in particular will dive into how abdominal ultrasound transducers function, what they are employed for, which patients to use which probes for, and so on. Without further ado, let’s begin.
The abdominal application on ultrasound machines is employed to help diagnose patients that are having ailments in the abdomen area – which includes but is not limited to the kidneys, liver, stomach, developing fetuses, gallbladder, pancreas and spleen.
Quite a number of smaller structures make up the abdominal area – giving diagnosticians and sonographers an opportunity to examine quite a number of potential ailments and potential conditions with just one abdominal ultrasound scan.
There are two primary types of ultrasound scans that can be conducted on a patient: Doppler and conventional ultrasounds.
Doppler ultrasounds, as discussed in our article “How it Works: Doppler Imaging”, provides images that allow diagnosticians to examine blood flow within veins, arteries and through the body – permitting the doctor to discover clots, blockages, thin blood streams, or a variety of other maladies.
Conventional ultrasounds, on the other hand, are taken to examine the actual structure – to identify growths, kidney stones, structural damages, and more. Afflictions that require a structural picture to identify are diagnosed using conventional ultrasounds, while ailments that have to do with blood flow (or lack of) are distinguished through doppler images.
In terms of tests and imaging, one may be examined utilizing two focal approaches: Ultrasound Imaging and / or a Doppler ultrasound study. Regular Ultrasound Imaging is applying the use of a abdominal probe in order to examine the shape and functionality of various organs in the abdominal area. Doppler studies, on the other hand, permits the physician to assess the blood flow through veins and arteries or within organs themselves. Both of these methodologies can be achieved through use of abdominal transducers, depending on how advanced or developed the probe is.
Liver Ultrasound Image
Abdominal Doppler Ultrasound Image
Just as cardiac transducers are generally recognizable by their phased array, square shaped lens, abdominal probes are almost always recognizable by their curved array. There are two types of curved array probes – convex and micro convex transducers.
Micro convex probes have a smaller curve, and are thinner smaller transducers. Convex array probes tend to have a wider lens, and are bigger transducers, In addition to the differences in appearance, these two types of probes actually project images for different applications and patients.
Before discussing the difference between micro convex and regular curved array probes, one more feature of transducers must be explained:
Frequency Ranges: Every probe works by emitting a very high pitched sound that penetrates the body (harmlessly), reverberates off of a structure, and is converted into an image using an ultrasound system (see How it Works: ).
The difference in frequency, or pitch that the sound the probe emits, actually influences how deep the sound penetrates. The higher the frequency range, the more shallow the penetration (which is why vascular, musculoskeletal, and more shallow parts of the body generally require a frequency ranging from 6 – 17 MHz.) Each probe, depending on it’s imaging capabilities, have different frequency ranges.
Now, back to the micro convex and curved array transducers:
Micro convex transducers are generally used for neonatal and pediatric patients. They generally have a higher frequency range than the average curved array probe. Newborn and pediatric patients, with smaller and more undeveloped bodies, do not require a transducer that penetrates as deeply as an adult would.
Conventional curved array probes, on the other hand, almost always have a lower frequency range (ranging sometimes from emitting a sound as low as 1 MHz. and as high as 3 or 4 MHz.) Due to the fact that many structures in the abdomen – including fetuses, the kidney, the liver, and the gallbladder are all deep into the body, the probe that will be able to project their image must have a very low frequency range.
Occasionally, there are certain sector array probes that are capable of projecting abdominal images as well, for both adults and pediatric patients (again, depending on the frequency range) – but an overwhelming number of abdominal transducers are curved and micro convex array probes.
Adult Convex Abdominal Ultrasound Probe
A.M.E Recommended Abdominal Ultrasound Probes:
A.M.E. Ultrasounds offers a variety of excellent ultrasound transducers for diagnosticians specializing in, or regularly conduct abdominal ultrasounds. Below is a list of probes that are economical and don’t sacrifice quality, and quality premier transducers.
Economical Probes: The GE 4C and 4C-RS are abdominal, regular curved array probes that are generally available for anywhere between $1250 – $1500 depending on the quality. The 8C and 8C-RS, both micro convex transducers, are priced similarly. For other economical transducers from different manufacturers – please feel free to contact us
Premier Transducers: Premier transducers include technologically advanced probes, or probes that are compatible with some of the most cutting-edge machines. 3D/4D probes, Purewave probes, and others are all considered premier transducers – usually have a price ranging anywhere from $3000 – $5000.
There is always the concern, particularly when it comes to medical equipment, regarding the safety of the devices and the potential side effects that occur as a result of employing these machines.
It is important to know that ultrasound machines are known to be completely harmless. They function through the utilization of sound waves emitting from the probe or transducer. These sound waves are then translated into images by the ultrasound machine or system. There is no need to fear when using ultrasound machines – it is a quick, easy and efficient way to diagnose and help determine a patient’s ails.
At A.M.E. Ultrasounds we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality customer service. If there is a particular topic you would like to read about, learn more about, or would be interested in, please feel free to contact us!
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