Staying ahead in the medical device field is all about staying informed and up to date on new developments, procedures and processes associated with current technology. From academia to OEMs, many organizations are continuously engaged in research and development, design, testing and more to identify best practices and products that have a proven impact on efficiencies, costs and outcomes. For example, organizations involved with design and engineering are constantly testing new ideas for products that perform better, simplify operations, increase work flow efficiencies and reduce costs. Service providers, like Innovatus Imaging, are continuously improving and qualifying processes used to service and repair devices, the goals being to extend the device’s lifecycle and improve the sustainability of each repair.
Continuous learning is as important as Continuous Quality Improvement in all aspects of health care. Having teams dedicated to testing operational and performance thresholds for ultrasound probes and MRI coils of all types, makes and models, enables the teams at Innovatus Imaging’s Centers of Excellence to develop better methodologies for device repair and inform end users of best practices and processes for care and handling that result in sustainable, reliable outcomes.
Test your “probe academics” by seeing how well you can answer the following two questions:
What is the main mode of failure of the acoustic array on an ultrasound probe?
Historically, most professionals believed that the main failure of the acoustic array was performance degradation or just internal failures. Although this is still one mode of failure, the most common mode of failure is related to physical damage. Adding to the confusion is the fact that, most times, there is no outward sign of physical damage to the probe’s lens or plastics when there is physical damage to one or more internal elements. The thickness of the elements or “crystals” within the array can be less than 0.5mm. The force of an accidental fall to the floor is more than enough to induce significant damage to the fragile elements. The result is often, dark vertical lines/shadows in the image.
What type of disinfectants are best for my ultrasound probe?
There are over 100 OEM-approved chemical disinfectants for probes from which to choose and each disinfectant has very specific instructions for use. You may not know that disinfectants containing alcohols and ammonium chloride solutions can induce significant damage to plastics and rubber materials. And most importantly, you may not know that most of the disinfectants used on ultrasound probes contain these chemicals. The use of alcohols and ammonium chlorides, over time, can lead to excessive stiffness, brittleness, shrinking and staining of the lens, strain relief, sealants, housings, cable sheathings, etc.
Typically, the choices, that end-users have, for disinfectants are limited by supply chain in combination with the infection control department. These departments may be more focused on efficacy and cost than on the effects to the medical devices on which the disinfectants are used. Even OEM-approved chemicals (and the methods in which they are used) have the potential to affect performance over time. It’s important to work with supply chain and infection control to source OEM-approved disinfectants with little to no alcohol and ammonium chloride content and be sure that end-users are following the recommended practices.
The above insights and practices add up to Evidence Based Repair methodologies gleaned from years of research, design, testing and successful outcomes. The vast body of knowledge moving our industry forward continues to grow as OEMs, businesses involved in maintaining and repairing devices and academia continue to work together to learn, create and test best practices for increasing efficiencies and outcomes for patients. As a result, Innovatus Imaging is dedicated to engineering new methodologies and working with universities through our Ultrasound School program to set up greater efficiencies for the present and future.
Dennis Wulf, CEO of Innovatus Imaging, has been developing best practices for ultrasound repair and restoration for nearly 40 years, founding multiple companies including Wetsco and MD MedTech which were recently merged with Bayer Multi Vendor Services to form Innovatus. He and Ted Lucidi, Clinical and Customer Experience for Innovatus Imaging, recently presented a 90-minute session on Getting Schooled in Ultrasound Operations at MD Expo 2019. For a summary of their session, please email TedL@innovatusimaging.com.
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