How It Works: Fetal, Neonatal, and Pediatric Probes
The demographic that this article is going to focus on is specifically pediatrics, developing babies (or fetuses) and newborn children (neonatal).
Pediatrics, particularly when it comes to medicine and diagnostics, refer to children until the age of 18. This is due to the fact that most people’s bodies are still developing and growing more than it probably will for the rest of their lives. However, until pediatrics have reached full maturity, the ultrasound equipment used is different than the technology used for adults.
Fetuses, on the other hand, cannot be photographed conventionally for obvious reasons. To generate photos of the fetus, and to track growth and development is simple using an abdominal or endocavitary probe. To examine a fetus’ heart, or get a quality 3D/4D picture of the fetus, on the other hand, special ultrasound transducers and systems are required.
Neonatal patients require technologies that is somewhere in between fetuses and pediatrics – as they are newly born, but still are infantile in size and physical maturity. They too require different ultrasound probes than adults and other patients.
What it means:
What a probe’s frequency range is, is crucial to understand. The frequency range on each transducer describes how high or low the sound that the probe emits is. For example, the GE C1-5-D transducercan emit a sounds that ranges anywhere from 1 MHz. to 5 MHz. The Philips L15-7io probe, on the other hand, has a higher frequency range – at most 15 MHz. and at very least 7 MHz.
Why It Matters:
There is a simple rule when it comes to ultrasound imaging: The higher the frequency range, the more shallow the penetration. If one were to, say, examine muscle tissue (musculoskeletal), one would have to use a higher frequency range, due to the fact that muscle tissue is much closer to the surface than one’s heart or liver is. The lower the frequency range, on the other hand, the deeper the penetration to reach structures that are at a greater distance.
Many pediatric ultrasound transducers tend to be micro-convex array probes. These are similar to curved array probes, except that the curve on the lens tends to be more emphasized. They also tend to have higher frequency ranges, despite projecting the same images as their convex array cousins. Because pediatric’s bodies are smaller than adults’, the penetration required for the image is significantly more shallow. For example, an average adult cardiac transducer has a frequency range between 1 – 4 MHz. A transducer that is used for pediatrics generally spans between 3 – 7 MHz.
In order to project images of fetuses for diagnostic purposes, one requires an ultrasound transducer that has a lower frequency range than required for pediatrics. This is, logically, because the probe’s sound waves need to penetrate further to get to the fetus than one would need to get to to view interior pediatric structures. Therefore, most abdominal / OB-GYN ultrasound transducers that project images for fetuses have a lower frequency range – between 1 – 5 MHz. Curved array, 3D/4D curved array, endocavitary and 3D/4D endocavitary probes are utilized to create images of fetuses.
Neonatal patients, or newborn babies, are barely more developed than many late-stage fetuses. Their bodies aren’t much larger, and grow exponentially for the first few years of their lives. But, due to the fact that when diagnosing a neonatal patient there’s no longer a mother’s belly and other structures to get in the way of the probe’s sound waves, a higher frequency pitch is employed to produce an ultrasound image.
Generally speaking, neonatal transducers have a similar frequency range to pediatric transducers. While a doctor may need to set the frequency pitch to 3 or 4 MHz. for a pediatric patient (penetrating slightly further), diagnosing a newborn will usually require a more shallow frequency pitch – 6 or 7 MHz. perhaps. Curved array and sector / phased array probes are usually the transducers that are capable of creating neonatal ultrasound images.
There are many ultrasound machines that are capable of producing and translating ultrasound images for pediatric patients. The only requirement is that the ultrasound machine is compatible with the necessary probes with the required frequency range potential. If, obviously, one wishes to do a speciality study, like pediatric cardiac diagnosis, one would need to use an ultrasound machine that is capable of producing cardiac applications.
A.M.E. Ultrasound recommends a number of ultrasound machines based on price, imaging technology and popularity. The Siemens Acuson X300, the GE Vivid E9, and the Mindray DC-7 ultrasound machines are just a few highly recommended systems.
The ultrasound machines required to diagnose fetuses are either ultrasound machines that are shared system or general systems that have the OB-GYN application enabled, or ultrasound machines that specialize in women’s health applications. The entire GE Voluson ultrasound series, for example, which includes stationary and portable, entry level and premium ultrasound machines – all specialize in women’s health applications. Other favored systems include the Samsung Medison Accuvix A30, the Philips IU22 and the Siemens Acuson S3000.
Neonatal ultrasound machines are, like pediatrics, usually not specifically for neonatal patients, but are ultrasound machines that are compatible with the probes that have the necessary frequency range to create neonatal ultrasound images. Popular ultrasound machines include the GE Logiq E9 and the Philips Epiq 7 systems.
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