Sponsored by Innovatus Imaging
Last month, we discussed the issue of EMI, RFI, environmental noise, whatever your preferred terminology and how it can negatively affect image quality in 2D and color Doppler ultrasound studies.
Based on our data, we’ve successfully repaired over 160,000 ultrasound probes. As part of our data-driven repair processes, we track and trend data such as reported problem, modes of failure, root cause, corrective action and where the failures occurred in the product life cycle. A percentage of probes, every month, are reported as experiencing noise artifact. With a high degree of confidence, we can say that less than 10% of those probes have failures affecting noise sensitivity.
Of the fractionally small segment of reported issues that were probe-related, failures to the shielding were the primary root cause. Examples are:
That leaves greater than 90% of the reported noise artifact issues being related to other factors. Following are some scenarios that my colleagues and I have experienced in our 20-some years in the ultrasound industry.
One-month of troubleshooting, numerous probes swapped/replaced, scanner hardware replaced and noise artifact persisted when using a single probe model until someone disconnected the ethernet cable from the rear of the scanner: A faulty network cable was acting as an antenna and created a pathway for excessive RF noise. Replacing the network cable resolved the problem.
Every time scans were performed in a certain area, noise artifact was present when using a select few probe models. When used in this area, the system was connected to an external monitor via an external video cable. Visual inspection of the video cable revealed roll-over damage which damaged the braided shielding. Replacing the cable (or disconnecting the video cable from the scanner) resolved the problem.
All strange, but very true scenarios; yet none were related to a failure within the probe. The vast amount of data that we have acquired, combined with the scenarios presented above, suggest that there are multiple variables affecting noise susceptibility within ultrasound imaging and only a small amount may actually be probe related.
I want to share one final story. In one instance, a customer experiencing intermittent noise artifacts sent their TEE probe in for evaluation and our teams could not duplicate the issue. Over the course of several months, the customer was provided with three loaners and each was reported to experience intermittent noise artifacts. Unbeknownst to the customer, Innovatus purchased a factory-new probe and sent it as a fourth loaner. Not surprisingly, that probe was reported to present intermittent noise artifacts.
The teams at Innovatus Imaging understand the challenges with which service engineers and end-users are presented. The leaders at our FDA-registered Center of Excellence for Design and Manufacturing are well-respected subject matter experts in transducer design. Our technical and clinical support team members, each, possess decades of experience in the modality. We continuously support our customers through free evaluations, complimentary technical support, no-charge next-day loaners and, if needed, on-site consultation.
Next month, in the final article of this series, I’ll present a solid framework to help you troubleshoot those challenging scenarios and we’ll squelch the noise.
For more information to see what’s behind a sustainable, reliable probe repair, visit innovatusimaging.com/technology-matters.
Ted Lucidi, CBET, Customer Experience and Clinical Insights, Centers of Excellence for Ultrasound and MRI Coil Repair, Radiography, Design and Manufacturing, Innovatus Imaging. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of TechNation or MD Publishing.
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