By Ted Lucidi
Last month’s column focused on the technological differences between traditional ultrasound probes and newer live-3D volumetric probes. Even though we highlighted some of the differences between the Philips S5-1 and X5-1, it can be expected that, regardless of the OEM, there are similarities across the technologies.
Let’s review some of the differences (Refer to last month’s column for more detail).
As you can see, there is a 1:1 wire-to-array element ratio on the S5-1. The same isn’t true for the X5-1. The advanced design has 12 of 163 wires used as control lines for the ASIC with single signal wires responsible for acoustics from up to 20 array elements.
Common failures with cardiac probes result from breakdowns of one or more wires (or shields) in the wiring harness. The problem is seldom physically visualized but presents itself as excessive INTERMITTENT static in CW Doppler mode when the cable is moved. Extreme cases result in image dropout in B-mode or flashing in color Doppler. There are several approaches to address this failure, but the most effective method, offering sustainability, is replacement of the entire wiring harness. Adapting this type of failure from the traditional design of the S5-1 to the more-advanced X5-1 … What if intermittencies develop in one or more of the control lines of the X5-1 versus just the signal lines? How do they affect performance and how does the problem present itself to the user?
Common points of wear on both probes, and scanners alike, is at the probe/scanner interface. With repeated use or over time, the tension between the pins on the probe and the connection(s) on the scanner can weaken. It’s also possible for a probe to become partially unseated from the scanner or the probe may not be squarely or tightly seated to the connector. Pins can become very easily bent or even broken from accidental trauma or hasty connections. Over time or with exposure to chemical disinfectants, oxidation or corrosion can build up on the pins. Dust can also build up in both the probe’s pin-bank as well as the scanner’s ports.
Traditionally, if a poor/compromised connection occurs, there are related, but transient, image artifacts or random performance issues noted by the sonographer (i.e. intermittent dropout, occasional ID failures, other issues not always repeatable). Raising the similar question as before … What if a poor connection occurs AND is related to one or more of the control lines when using the X5-1?
Based on the hundreds of X5-1’s evaluated at our Center of Excellence for Ultrasound Repair, a good percentage have reports of CONSTANT static in CW Doppler mode (versus intermittent static when the cable is moved). If you have X5-1’s in your fleet, your echo techs have, no doubt, experienced this frustrating scenario and it is, very-likely, the reason for which many X5-1’s have been replaced.
As with any probe, it’s possible for the array to sustain damage which can result in performance issues. With the X5-1, combine a more sophisticated array design consisting of thousands of subminiature elements with the possibility of an electronic/ASIC failure and the sonographer and ultimately, the technician can now be presented with non-traditional types of failures. Although array/ASIC failures do occur and can present CONSTANT static in CW Doppler mode, it is possible that the issue experienced in the clinical environment is unable to be duplicated.
Our engineers have developed custom fixtures and new test methodologies to isolate and interrogate various electronics within these probes and after thorough research, we’ve identified that IF a poor, intermittent, compromised or questionable connection results on one or more of the 12 control lines within the X5-1, then CONSTANT static in CW Doppler mode may be experienced. Ultimately, ANYTHING that compromises the connection of one or more of the control lines leading to the array may result in, what seems to be, a hard probe failure.
Next month, I’ll conclude this series with tips to enhance your troubleshooting skills for X5-1’s. As today’s transducers become more advanced, you can bet that tomorrow’s breakdowns are going to be based upon obscure, non-traditional points of failure. Be sure to partner with a provider that has advanced as much as the products you support. Currently, Innovatus Imaging can address all repairable components within this model.
Ted Lucidi, CBET, Customer Experience and Clinical Insights, Centers of Excellence for Ultrasound and MRI Coil Repair, Radiography, Design and Manufacturing, Innovatus Imaging.
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