As a veterinarian who is dedicated to accurately diagnosing sickness and disease in your animal patients, you most likely take advantage of some of the same types of diagnostic tools that doctors use for humans. These tools include X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. One more necessary tool for a veterinary practice is an ultrasound machine.
When it comes to purchasing an ultrasound machine, be sure to choose the one that best suits the needs of your particular practice. In your decision-making process, consider which features you need, and whether or not you should buy new or refurbished. You will also have to decide what type of accessories you need.
One accessory in particular is the ultrasound probe, which is commonly referred to as a transducer. Not all probes are created equal, and with all the different ultrasound probes on the market, you may have a difficult time choosing the right one.
To help you out, here are three factors to consider when choosing the right ultrasound probe.
1. Frequency of the Ultrasound Probe
Ultrasound probes are made with materials called piezoelectrics, which are usually made from ceramic crystal. When an electric field is supplied, the ceramic crystal piezoelectrics make sound waves. This process also works in reverse and produces an electric field when a sound wave hits.
When used during an ultrasound, a probe sends sound waves into the body and generates electrical signals. The speed and distance at which this is done is measured in megahertz. This is why when you are buying an ultrasound probe, you will see a number followed by MHz.
Besides speed and distance however, these interactions also affect the frequency:
The frequency range you choose will affect how well you can see an image produced by the sound waves inside the animal's body. Ultrasound probes that have a higher frequency, which is anywhere from 12 to 20 MHz, generally produce an image with higher resolution.
However, because probes with higher frequency don't penetrate as well, they are usually only used for organs that are closer to the surface of the body. Ultrasound probes with a lower frequency that ranges from 1 to 5 MHz have better penetration but do not produce high resolution images.
2. Type of Ultrasound Probe Array
The part of the ultrasound probe that comes into contact with the animal is called the array. It is usually a grayish rubber material that covers the ceramic crystal piezoelectrics. Arrays come in four different formats with each format producing a specific type of image.
The four array formats include:
- Linear: produces high quality rectangular-shaped images
- Sector: produces slice-of-pie-shaped images of larger organs
- Phased: produces triangular-shaped images and is often used on the heart and brain
- Curved or Convex: combines benefits of both linear and sector formats
The convex array also comes in a micro convex, which is best suited for small animals.
The format you use will largely depend on what shape of image you need to see, along with what organs you are viewing. Along with the format, the length of array is also important as the longer the array, the more sections of the structure you will be able to see. For smaller organs that need to appear larger on the screen, a shorter array is optimal.
3. Design of Ultrasound Probe
Ultrasound probes also come in a few different designs, and as with each of the other factors, different probe designs are used in specific circumstances. When the array is on the far end of the probe, it is considered a traditional grip. A probe of this particular design is placed on top of the animal's body and gripped in the palm of the hand.
The other design that is commonly used in veterinary medicine is called a rectal probe. The cable on a rectal probe is located on the rear side with the array along the side of it. This allows for easy examinations of larger animals such as bovine and equine or other farm animals.
Tips for Buying an Ultrasound Probe
No matter which factor is most important to you, remember to purchase an ultrasound probe that is compatible with your machine. Once you receive the probe, you will want to handle it with care. This means never throwing or dropping it. You should also never clean it with fluids that contain alcohol.
If you are a veterinarian who needs to purchase a high quality probe, contact Keebovet today, for all your ultrasound needs. We carry a wide range of machines and ultrasound accessories, including probes of all frequencies, arrays, and designs.
If for some reason you are not satisfied with the ultrasound probe you have purchased, you'll be glad to know that we offer free returns for 60 days after you receive the product.