Key Point: 40% of 676 hospital ultrasound transducers tested were malfunctioning.

High Incidence of Defective Ultrasound Transducers In Use in Routine Clinical Practice

Mattias Martensson, Mats Olsson, Bjorn Segall, Alan G. Fraser, Reidar Winter and Lars-A˚ke Brodin – School for Technique and Health, KTH, Campus Flemingsberg, Huddinge, Sweden.

European Journal of Echocardiography (2009) 10, 389–394

AIMS: The objective was to evaluate the function of ultrasound transducers in use in routine clinical practice and thereby estimating the incidence of defective transducers.

METHODS AND RESULTS: The study comprised a one-time test of 676 transducers from 7 manufacturers which were in daily use in clinical departments at 32 hospitals. They were tested with the Sonora FirstCall Test System; 39.8% exhibited a transducer error. Delamination was detected in 26.5% and break in the cable was detected in 8.4% of the tested transducers. Errors originating from the piezoelectrical elements were unusual. Delamination and short circuit occurred without significant differences between transducers from all tested manufacturers, but the errors break in the cable, weak and dead element showed a statistically significant higher frequency in transducers from certain manufacturers.

CONCLUSION: The high error frequency and the risk for incorrect medical decisions when using a defective transducer indicate an urgent need for increased testing of the transducers in clinical departments.