A Brief History of Ultrasound Transducer Development

History of Ultrasounds, Ultrasound Probes and Transducers - Mon Jul 30 2018


Technology in the medical industry has been constantly developing. Ultrasound machines, EKG monitors, patient monitors and ultrasound probes are just a few technologies that have advanced exponentially throughout the years. This blog, the latest in our “History of Ultrasound” series, will trace the development of ultrasound transducers / probes.
Stage One: Single Element Probes
The first modern ultrasound transducers that were utilized were single-element probes. These probes had a fixed depth that they were able to reach, which varied based on the engineering of the specific unit. Cheap to make, and with a small footprint (which would permit clear images to be projected), the cons of these particular probes outweighed the pros. They were inflexible in their focus, and would only be able to be employed for a very specific application. If a single crystal element ceased functioning perfectly, the whole transducer would be incapacitated.
Stage Two: Multi Element Probes
Scrambling to fix these problems, technicians, engineers and mechanics would work to create the next ultrasound transducer: Multi – element probes. These new transducers permit far greater flexibility and are capable of firing several various elements individually or even as a unit. Now, if one element failed, although the image quality would be altered, the result would not be a completely inept probe. Rather, the probe would be limited in its range and potential group imaging. Still, technology and diagnostics were not completely satisfied and the engineers huddled together to conceive of a greater, more efficient transducer.
Probe Element Breakdown
Stage Three: 3D / 4D Probes
When the newest probes were born, they contained a brilliant function: The ability to take such a rapid succession of images that the scene that was depicted on the ultrasound system actually moved as though in a movie. This function, known as 4D imaging, is really just “live” 3D ultrasound depictions. It provides significantly enhanced image clarity, permits for more accurate diagnosis, and is often utilized for OB-GYN or cardiac / vascular applications.
GE RAB2-6-RS 3D/4D Probe
Works in Progress:
There are a few other types of ultrasound transducers that individual manufacturers are in the midst of developing. High-Density probes, Single Crystal transducers and T3 probes are all examples of developing ultrasound technologies that are currently in the works – sure to continue along the exciting and enlightening path that technology has led us down to help improve our lives and the lives of our patients and diagnosticians.

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