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Ultrasound transducer function: annual testing is not sufficient

Mattias Mårtensson, Mats Olsson, Lars-Åke Brodin
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ejechocard/jeq072 801-805 First published online: 8 June 2010

Abstract

Aims The objective was to follow-up the study ‘High incidence of defective ultrasound transducers in use in routine clinical practice’ and evaluate if annual testing is good enough to reduce the incidence of defective ultrasound transducers in routine clinical practice to an acceptable level.

Methods and results A total of 299 transducers were tested in 13 clinics at five hospitals in the Stockholm area. Approximately 7000–15 000 ultrasound examinations are carried out at these clinics every year. The transducers tested in the study had been tested and classified as fully operational 1 year before and since then been in normal use in the routine clinical practice. The transducers were tested with the Sonora FirstCall Test System. There were 81 (27.1%) defective transducers found; giving a 95% confidence interval ranging from 22.1 to 32.1%. The most common transducer errors were ‘delamination’ of the ultrasound lens and ‘break in the cable’ which together constituted 82.7% of all transducer errors found. The highest error rate was found at the radiological clinics with a mean error rate of 36.0%. There was a significant difference in error rate between two observed ways the clinics handled the transducers. There was no significant difference in the error rates of the transducer brands or the transducers models.

Conclusion Annual testing is not sufficient to reduce the incidence of defective ultrasound transducers in routine clinical practice to an acceptable level and it is strongly advisable to create a user routine that minimizes the handling of the transducers.

  • Transducer
  • Probe
  • Ultrasound
  • Testing
  • Maintenance
  • Service
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