How Does an Ultrasound Probe Work?

February 15 2021

Doctor holding a white ultrasound probe in front of an ultrasound machine

An ultrasound probe is a powerful handheld device that helps healthcare professionals capture information about patients’ health. While many people have a basic understanding of how ultrasound works, most do not truly understand the specifics.

It is important to understand what role the probe plays in ultrasound technology. This will give you a better understanding of what equipment and probe type you should invest in for your practice.

We’ll go over everything you need to know about the ultrasound probe. We’ll also cover how to use an ultrasound probe. Answer to the common question, “How does an ultrasound work?” and learn where to find the best pricing on machinery from industry-leading brands. Let’s get started.

How Does an Ultrasound Work?

There are slight variations to how ultrasound works depending on the machine you’re using. However, the technology all functions in the same basic way.

Ultrasonography equipment uses sound waves to map the location of internal anatomy. This concept functions similarly to echolocation, which is used by animals. For instance, bats “hear” echoes in the dark and measure their depth to determine how far away the object that caused the echo is.

In a similar way, an ultrasound machine emits high-frequency waves (from the ultrasound probe) that pass through the skin and bounce off of internal anatomy. These waves reflect back to the equipment thousands of times per second. The machine converts these echoes into electrical signals, which are then processed by a computer to create a visual display of the information in a way we can understand.

So, exactly what role does a probe play in how ultrasound works? The ultrasound probe, also known as the ultrasound transducer, is actually the key component of the imaging process. The probe contains piezoelectric crystals that change shape when an electrical current is applied to them. These shape changes produce sound waves. The ultrasound probe is placed on the skin, directing these sound waves into the body.

The waves from the ultrasound transducer encounter tissues with different densities that produce echoes. These echoes reflect back to the crystals, where they are captured and converted into electrical signals. The computer takes care of the rest.

In an instant, a complete ultrasound image frame is formed on the display screen.

Choosing an Ultrasonic Probe

There are different types of ultrasound probes available, depending on what the equipment is being used for. The most common types include linear, convex, and phased array transducers.

Keep in mind that the best ultrasonic probe for one practice may not be the best for another. Choose the option that is designed for your specific needs and applications.

Each type has a different central frequency and crystal arrangement. Learn more about each ultrasound transducer type here.

How to Use an Ultrasound Probe

First, freeze the screen on your program and connect the ultrasonic probe to the machine. To do this, simply insert it into the transducer port. Turn the knob vertically to lock it in place.

Then, apply ultrasound gel to the head of the probe. The layer of gel should be at least half a centimeter thick. Keep in mind that too much gel is never a problem, but too little gel is.

Once the gel has been applied, lightly press the ultrasound transducer onto the patient’s skin. Unfreeze the frame on your program once the transducer is touching the patient. Move the transducer around while observing the image on the screen. Take images where needed.

Once you’re done using the ultrasound transducer, remove the gel with a delicate wipe. Place the plastic cover back on the transducer head and store it in a safe place. Now that you know how to use an ultrasound probe, learn how to find the best deal on equipment below.

Healthcare professional applying gel to the head of an ultrasonic probe

Purchasing Ultrasound Equipment

If you’re looking for ultrasound equipment, UltrasoundQuotes can help. We partner with industry-leading manufacturers to offer a huge selection of machinery covering a range of specialties.

Use our free online pricing tool to get personalized quotes on equipment that fits your needs. Compare your options to find a high-quality ultrasound machine that fits your budget today.

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